JJC nursing students have new options

It is time to outline an up-to-date list of the RN to BSN options offered to JJC nursing students. With spring semester fast approaching, many second semester and fourth semester nursing students will begin their bachelor’s program search. Here is a brief guide on the BSN need-to-knows which can help students identify programs offering impressive cost savings, time efficiency, and in some cases, both.

JJC currently has several existing articulated RN to BSN agreements with several in state and online universities. Among the current list: Chamberlain College of Nursing, Lewis University, Olivet Nazarene University, Purdue University Northwest, University of Phoenix, University of Saint Francis, and University of Illinois at Chicago, all which offer programs for associate’s prepared nurses to attain their bachelor’s in nursing science.

University of Phoenix is one of the newest programs to offer JJC nursing students a deal, with a tuition discount being offered to community colleges nationwide through their Dual enrollment program.

For this program, Dual enrollment means that a student may apply and be accepted to continue their coursework after passing the NCLEX. Many students would be interested to know that, like many of the programs in this article, Phoenix is strictly online learning.

This program comes in by similar fashion to Lewis University’s current articulation agreement with JJC, in which students also receive a tuition freeze and a discounted rate from their normal tuition.

The offer comes with a full-time or part-time status, and classes for Lewis are in-person. With the in-person courses, there are several satellite sites available to attend to meet with Lewis instructors, including JJC itself.

In the works currently is a further specified articulation agreement with Illinois State University; with their current option to enroll concurrently online while completing third semester for ADN at a community college, “a direct articulation agreement could mean even more perks for students,” states Dr. Mary Beth Luna, Nursing department chair and professor.

Many nursing students often wonder about things like tuition and time-frame until graduation when considering entry into a BSN program. Some may also wonder why a higher degree would be worth pursuing in the first place, since ADN prepared nurses still maintain secure job placement upon graduation; 88% of ADN graduates from JJC were working as nurses in 2017 according to JJC’s main website.

According to Luna, the higher degree is extremely worthwhile. “Going back for my bachelor’s [in nursing] has made me an even better nurse. And my Master’s degree!” Luna says.

While ADN nurses are certainly prepared for practice after JJC, Luna points out some practical considerations for weighing the benefits of going back to school.

“The reality is, you don’t know what you don’t know as a new graduate, and working through a higher degree can really enhance those critical thinking skills, which in turn make you a better nurse, I believe.”

Additionally, Luna references 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggesting that by the year 2020, roughly 80% of all practicing registered nurses should be bachelor’s prepared. To boot, the report and rn.com states that bachelor’s-prepared nurses exhibited less errors in practice, were able to take on more leadership roles, and overall provided with improved quality of healthcare.

The impact this has on the graduating nurse is related to employment prospects, since many hospitals are working to achieve “Magnet status,” part of which is awarded to the facility by heading the IOM’s BSN suggestion, according to rn.com.

So why doesn’t JJC simply offer their own BSN program? The answer is more complicated than one may anticipate, says Luna.

It appears as though obtaining a BSN status from the appropriate accrediting bodies requires a lot of bureaucratic footwork on the part of JJC, as evidenced by a “Nurse Degree Pilot Program” underway from proposed state legislature to allow all community colleges in the state offer such programs for their students.

The bill has enabled Malcom X college and Lewis and Clark community college to test these programs for their effectiveness in bachelor’s level education. These community colleges  be evaluated in 2023, according to ilga.gov, to help legislatives determine whether other community colleges should be able to offer a BSN as well to address the ever growing demand for nurses in the workforce.

While nursing students would certainly find a community college priced BSN appealing, JJC offers many viable options for the smart spender and the ambitious achiever. In addition to the BSN programs listed above, some schools offer an RN to MSN track (Master’s in nursing science). Examples are Governor’s State and Depaul University.

As the close of fall approaches with finals looming in the air, perhaps it is best to focus on the present, and use the information presented here as a renewed source of hope and perseverance for the future.  To the nursing students, carpe diem.