A 2014 RN Workforce Survey by the Wisconsin Center for Nursing found that, of the more than 73,136 nurses who responded to the survey, 32,263 (or 44.1 percent) held a bachelor degree in nursing, while just 26,444 (or 36.2 percent) held an associate degree in nursing. Overall statewide statistics reveal that nearly 54 percent of all Wisconsin nurses currently hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
This number is not surprising, given the findings of a 2011 IOM Report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The report found that 80 percent of Wisconsin hospitals and 88 percent of nursing schools were taking action to increase the proportion of nurses with a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020. The report revealed that many organizations were taking steps to encourage academic progression by establishing clear expectations for a baccalaureate education within a set timeframe after hiring. Further, some respondents of the survey also reported their organizations had already implemented preferential hiring options for BSN graduates.
A number of actions supporting academic progression in nursing were identified in the report, including: dual enrollment options, tuition reimbursement benefits, and articulation agreements between the Wisconsin State Technical College System and universities.
The IOM report also found that the number of qualified applicants admitted into RN to BSN programs increased between 2011 and 2012, and new enrollees increase from 503 in 2011 to 751 in 2012. Further, there was a significant increase in RN to BSN graduates year over year between 2011 (380) and 2012 (425).
RN to BSN Educational Programs in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Center for Nursing in 2013 report found an alarming statistic: Projections show that there will be workforce crisis in Wisconsin, with a shortage of nearly 20,000 RNs expected by 2035. Educational programs in Wisconsin are plentiful, with many of them aimed at encouraging the advancement of practicing nurses to meet the increasing demands of an evolving healthcare system.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association has taken significant steps to encourage current ADN RNs to pursue their BSN degrees through a website resource called the BSN completion program site. This resource allows nurses to search available programs and learn more about them, thereby allowing them to find programs that fit their learning style and lifestyle.
There are currently 15 BSN completion programs in Wisconsin in cities such as:
- Fond du Lac
- Eau Claire
- Green Bay
- La Crosse
RN-BSN Program Structure and Components
Nurses who want to complete an RN to BSN need to possess a current and unencumbered RN license and an ADN. Depending on the program, minimum GPA requirements likely exist, with most programs requiring candidates to have graduated from their ADN program with at least a 2.0 GPA.
Many RN to BSN programs offer flexible options that include distance (online) learning opportunities, part-time opportunities, and self-paced curriculums, all of which are designed to accommodate currently employed RNs. Students in an RN to BSN program are able to earn the credits required to attain their BSN through coursework, alternative education experiences, and professional experiences.
Many times, upper-level nursing courses in a BSN program can be transferred to an MSN program, thereby facilitating nurses who want to achieve a graduate degree and work in areas such as nursing administration and research.
Many of the areas of study in a BSN program include:
- Leadership and management
- Chronic care management
- Community health nursing
- Foundations of professional nursing practice
- Health assessment and promotion
- Information systems and healthcare technology
Clinical Opportunities for RN to BSN Programs in Wisconsin
Clinical rotations are a vital component to any RN to BSN program. Just a few of the hospitals in Wisconsin that serve as clinical sites for nurses include:
- Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison
- Central Wisconsin Center, Madison
- Columbus Community Hospital, Columbus
- Family Birth Center, Monroe
- Group Health Cooperative, Madison
Wisconsin Organizations that Encourage RN to BSN Educational Progression
Many hospitals and health organizations in Wisconsin that employ RNs encourage RN to BSN progression through scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and similar incentives:
Aurora Health Care has a Minority Nurse Scholarship Program that provides up to $15,000 in loan forgiveness for the completion of an RN to BSN program in exchange for a three-year commitment.
The Veterans Administration Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) Program provides baccalaureate nursing students who have completed their junior year with the opportunity to develop their clinical skills at a VA-approved healthcare facility. The program offers a competitive salary, which generally starts at three salary grades about the typical salary of a new graduate.
Amery Hospital and Clinic in Amery provides its RNs with tuition assistance when they choose to complete their BSN.
Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Aurora supports the professional growth of RNs who want to achieve their BSN through tuition assistance/reimbursement.