Twenty-two graduates of Alamance Community College’s Associate Degree Nursing program earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees from UNCG in December as the first class of a partnership between the two colleges, known as RN-to-BSN (Registered Nurse-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing).
Beginning in January 2015, UNCG’s School of Nursing faculty provided online classes and met with 25 graduates of ACC’s Associate Degree Nursing program one day per week on the ACC campus. Students were charged UNCG distance learning rates and fees. Because the face-to-face class was offered on the ACC campus, students who already lived in Alamance County saved time and travel expenses.
“One of the reasons for the success of our program is the partnership we have with ACC,” said Jacqueline DeBrew, UNCG Program Director. “ACC provides the classroom space, makes parking accommodations for us, and helps with student recruitment.”
After three semesters, that first batch of 22 students graduated with their BSN degrees from UNCG. Three other students will complete additional elective hours before their graduation.
Admission preference is shown to ACC second-year nursing students and RN graduates. Other RNs in the area can join the cohort as space allows.
“In our new ACC cohort starting in January 2017, we expect to have around 33 students,” said Linda Anderson, RN-BSN Outreach Program Specialist at the UNCG School of Nursing.
The American Association of Colleges of Nurses reported that 77.4% of employers expressed a strong preference for BSN program graduates. BSN-educated nurses typically receive 2-3 times the clinical training as Associate Degree in Nursing graduates. Consequently, BSN nurses earn higher salaries because they are better equipped to deliver more complex, high-quality patient care services.
The format of the program also contributes to its success, said DeBrew. Students have two courses, taught in a hybrid format, each semester. The two courses share one time slot, so the students are able to attend class once a week for four hours, but earn credit for two courses. One class meets face to face, while the other meets online and then they switch the next week.
“We also have dedicated faculty who are passionate about RN/BSN students and are willing to make the drive, learn a new campus, to teach their courses,” said DeBrew.
“These BSN credentials make nurses more competitive in today’s job market, and that competitive edge will give Alamance Community College students exactly what they need,” said ACC President Dr. Algie Gatewood. “This really bridges the gaps and ensures that more of our students and people from this community will have opportunities before them that they’ve never had before.”