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As the healthcare industry moves to hire registered nurses with four-year degrees, Lakeland University has launched an RN to BSN completion program for licensed registered nurses who have an associate degree in nursing.

Lakeland's program features curriculum geared toward career advancement and positions nurses for supervisory and other leadership roles. Nurses with an associate degree can transfer up to 72 credits to Lakeland, and those with college-level coursework from an accredited four-year college may transfer more, cutting down the time to finish a bachelor's degree.

Wisconsin Center for Nursing (WCN) research shows that 22 percent of RNs plan to further their education in the next two years at a time when more hospitals are requiring RNs to hold a BSN. WCN research also shows that no Wisconsin region meets the goal of having 80 percent of RNs with a BSN by 2020.

"Nearly 50 percent of RNs in Wisconsin have a BSN, so it'll be important for nurses to return to school to keep pace," said Kerry Hamm, director of Lakeland's nursing program. "Lakeland is excited to assist the state's healthcare providers in meeting future nurse workforce needs and provide a way for nurses to grow in their profession."

"RN work schedules are demanding, but access to Lakeland's BSN coursework is simple and easy," Hamm said. "Applying to the program is straightforward and can be completed in minutes. A lot of nurses worry about going back to school because they don't understand how they'll have time to do the work. Lakeland's flexibility is ideally suited for nurses who are juggling busy professional and personal schedules."

Nurses can take courses in Lakeland's BlendED delivery model which allows the nurse to select their learning option each week from three options:

  • Attend the live class face-to-face at one of Lakeland's seven centers.
  • Attend class virtually from any location with an internet connection as the class streams live from the face-to-face location.
  • Attend class 100 percent online and "on-demand" as the live class is recorded and uploaded to the learning management system.

Lakeland's BSN offers five areas of emphasis:

  • Healthcare Business Management – for nurses who aspire to contribute to the health care business organization, desire to be an entrepreneur or wish to pursue their master's degree and focus on nursing administration, nursing leadership or business administration
  • System Leadership and Management - for nurses who are innovative and seek to provoke change through engagement of leadership and management principles. Recommended for the nurse who wishes to pursue a leadership role or their master's degree and focus on nursing administration, nursing leadership or leadership and organizational development.
  • Cultural and Diversity Studies - for nurses who wish to increase their cultural competence and deliberate the social context of professional nursing practice.
  • Behavioral and Psychiatric Health – for nurses who wish to increase their skills in psychiatric-mental health nursing or who wishes to pursue Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Nursing (PMH-APRN).
  • Student Designed - students may propose a 12 semester-hour emphasis in an area of academic interest, in which the student may include an experiential learning option.

Tuition reimbursement is offered by a number of employers, Hamm said, and RNs who work for Lakeland corporate partners receive a tuition discount.

Graduates of Lakeland's program will be in line for higher-paying positions and better hours in addition to leadership opportunities. Hamm said studies show that RNs with a BSN earn on average 5-6 percent more than RNs with an associate degree, and nurses with a bachelor's degree who work in nursing management earn 13 percent higher salaries than their associate degree counterparts.

"Lakeland's program is designed for nurses who hope to ascend to supervisory and other leadership roles," Hamm said. "The emphasis areas provide education that focuses on professional development and better understanding of cultural, political and social issues that affect patients."

To learn more about Lakeland's RN to BSN, email or visit our website at Lakeland.edu/RNtoBSN.

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