Lynchburg College will offer registered nurses the opportunity to pursue the master of science in nursing (MSN) without having first completed a bachelor’s degree. The RN to MSN Pathway program will begin in the fall of 2012 and is the first in Central Virginia.
The program has been developed to address the nursing shortage and improve patient care through expanded educational opportunities. Lynchburg College joins 173 other colleges and universities across the country offering the program.
During the past five years the College has partnered with local medical professionals to conduct two separate studies to determine community and national needs for highly educated health care professionals. Meeting these regional needs satisfies a necessary element for an “innovation” economy. Communities will thrive or weaken depending upon how “knowledge workers” (workers who earn post-secondary degrees to become highly skilled problem-solvers) are cultivated and retained.
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Nursing education is receiving national attention thanks to mandates from accrediting agencies. The Magnet system, an accrediting body for hospitals, is requiring that 100 percent of nurse managers have a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing, effective January 1, 2013 and that all nurses who are in supervisory positions receive the MSN by 2020. In addition, the Institute of Medicine has made recommendations that by the year 2020, 80 percent of all nurses will hold a B.S.N. degree and the number of doctoral prepared nurses double in the United States.
The majority of nurses nationally and in Virginia do not have bachelor’s degrees with 62.3% of all licensed RNs in Virginia holding either a diploma in nursing or an associate’s degree.
The lack of MSN prepared nurses is recognized as a barrier to the resolution of the nursing shortage and to optimal health care. Ongoing research shows that the higher the education level of the nurses, the better the patient care.
“We are committed to delivering an affordable, desirable nursing program that will help nurses to advance their careers and meet the needs of their employers,” said Dr. Jean St. Clair, MSN program director. “At no time in our nation’s history has the need been greater for higher educated nurses.”
Applicants to the program will have completed prior comprehensive training in nursing, successfully passed the licensure exam, and completed extensive general studies coursework (totaling a minimum of 48 credits). They will also be required to successfully complete four classes that will serve as a bridge from their prior nursing training into the MSN program.
MSN courses will be taught in a hybrid format that combines online and classroom experiences to provide flexibility to working professionals. Students will be required to choose either the Clinical Nurse Leader or Nursing Education track. Selected summer courses will be available this summer.
For hospitals that form a cohort of at least 10 students, Lynchburg College nursing professors will teach the classroom component on site.
The MSN program is accredited by the AACN and the State Board of Nursing.
“The Lynchburg College RN to MSN program will decrease the time commitment for the employee and the employer, provide a more cost effective alternative than two separate degrees, and allow the RN to be more competitive for advancement,” concluded Dr. St. Clair.
For application or additional information, contact Dr. Jean St. Clair, MSN program director, 434.544.8740, ; or Dr. Linda Andrews, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, 434.544.8461, .