In 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) identified the need for considerably more nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and made the recommendation that 80% of the nursing workforce should hold a BSN or higher by 2020. Currently only 32% of nurses in West Virginia have a BSN or higher.
The West Virginia Action Coalition is the committee that was formed to meet the 80% goal by 2020. The Coalition is looking into flexible programs to make it easier for students to take the BSN path in becoming a licensed RN in West Virginia.
The West Virginia RN Board continues to license RNs with associate’s degrees in nursing, but as new standards emerge and as employers take an active role through preferential hiring of BSN-educated RNs, it makes good sense to consider the BSN path to licensure.
The Magnet Recognition Program is the new gold standard for recognition of hospitals that deliver expert nursing care. Hospitals aspiring to become members of the program must now have 100% of their nursing staff educated with a BSN. This again shows the benefit of becoming an RN through a BSN program.
With all of these efforts being made around the state to meet the new education goals, more scholarship options are becoming available to nursing program candidates. The West Virginia Center for Nursing offers students up to $7500 in aid per academic year.
Enrolling in an Online or On-Campus Pre-Licensure BSN Program in West Virginia
Today’s nursing students have the choice of an online, campus-based, or hybrid nursing program. The hybrid programs allow students more flexible course scheduling while still getting the advantages that come with the campus experience. Candidates with a degree in areas other than nursing may also have the option to pursue an accelerated BSN program.
West Virginia offers campus-based BSN pre-licensure programs throughout the state, including in the following cities:
BSN Program Prerequisites
Nursing program admission is generally based on a combination of high school GPA average and ACT or SAT scores. Admission is highly competitive. Students with college experience typically are required to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Complete an application to the program.
- Complete a personal statement.
- Have references and recommendations.
Program Structure and Clinical Experience
BSN programs in West Virginia are typically 129 credit hours, which include general education and nursing specific courses. General education courses comprise approximately 60 credits of the degree program and include the following:
- General Biology
- English Composition
- General Psychology
Nursing specific courses are taken in the second half of the program and may include the following:
- Foundations of Nursing Practice
- Care of the Critically Ill Patient
- Ethics and Health Care
- Evidence Based Practice
- Alterations in Mental Health
- NCLEX Review
BSN programs require clinical experience as a fundamental part of adequately preparing RNs. Criminal background checks are required before beginning any clinical experience. There are several medical facilities and teaching hospitals within West Virginia that offer clinical experience. Nursing students can schedule clinical experience through the West Virginia Center for Nursing website. A few examples of institutions offering clinicals include the following:
- Ruby Memorial Hospital – Morgantown
- Charleston Area Medical Center – Charleston
- Thomas Health Systems – Charleston
- Highland Hospital – Charleston
Licensing, Examination and Residency
The steps to RN licensure in West Virginia include the following:
- Verification of completion of accredited RN program
- Completion of NCLEX RN exam
- Criminal background check
The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is required to be eligible for RN licensing. Registration for the exam can be done with the following steps:
- Submit licensure application to West Virginia RN Board
- Meet all eligibility requirements from West Virginia RN Board
- Register and pay for exam with Pearson VUE
- Receive eligibility from West Virginia RN Board
Results should be received within six weeks of the test date.
Opportunities After Graduation
A residency program is a great way to transition from the student environment to the work environment. Mentorship and job shadowing are just some of the tools used in these programs to ensure a successful beginning to a nursing career. Two examples of hospitals offering residency programs include:
- West Virginia University Hospital – Morgantown
- CAMC Health System
Graduation from a BSN program can not only aide in securing a job, but can also open up other opportunities that are not available to those holding only an RN license. Some of the opportunities for BSN degreed candidates within West Virginia as of February 2015 include:
- Nursing Supervisor – War Memorial Hospital, Berkeley Springs
- RN Field Care Manager – Humana, Clarksburg
- Registered Nurse – Hampshire Memorial Hospital, Romney