Momentum builds for RN-to-BSN program

In response to workforce needs and an ongoing nursing shortage, Austin Community College hopes to begin offering the increasingly essential bachelor’s degree credential to the college’s associate degree nursing graduates by 2017.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is recommending state lawmakers allow community colleges offer RN-to-BSN programs to address the ongoing demand for registered nurses and the increased  need for those prepared at the BSN level.

“ACC has been recognized for its outstanding nurse education since 1974,” says ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes. “A BSN option would allow us to build upon our highly regarded Associate Degree Nursing programs while helping our students fulfill a vital need.”

BSN as the new minimum requirement

As healthcare delivery changes, nurses incorporate increasingly complex roles. Many clinical agencies and hospitals require nurse applicants to have a BSN and  current nurse employees to obtain the degree within a specified timeframe.

“Our goal is to provide an additional educational pathway to facilitate academic progression for registered nurses that offers flexibility and affordability,” says Nancy Walters, chair of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Program.

ACC became the primary provider of nurse education in Austin after absorbing the Brackenridge program.

A tradition of excellence

Adding an RN-to-BSN program to its current programs would enable ACC to continue a tradition of quality education that began 40 years ago when Brackenridge Hospital transferred its nursing program to the college. ACC eventually absorbed the Brackenridge program, making ACC the primary provider of nursing education Austin and driving the college’s early growth.

ACC offers two ADN tracks and has RN-to-BSN articulation agreements with many four-year universities including the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University.

The college’s nursing programs produce hundreds of new nurses every year, including more than 250 registered nurses. Graduates consistently excel at the national licensure exam, with passing rates of 91 percent to 98 percent.

An RN-to-BSN program would allow students to complete all of their general education and nursing classes – about 120 credits – at ACC. The first BSN cohort would have 25-40 students, who would pay about $4,350 in total tuition costs, compared with $10,000 to $15,000 at a university.

Proposed program expansion

ACC would establish the RN-to-BSN program with revenue supported by the proposed increase to the college’s maintenance and operations tax cap. Increasing the M&O tax cap is one of three proposals in the November 4 ACC bond and tax cap election. Proposition 2 of the bond package includes plans to expand the Round Rock Campus to accommodate more health sciences classes and students.

For more information about the bond proposals, visit the ACC bond and tax cap election webpage.

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