NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s College of Nursing has been approved to offer a flat rate of tuition and fees for Registered Nurses who would like to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
The University of Louisiana System approved the plan Tuesday in which students will pay a flat rate of $6,750, which includes tuition and fees) for 30 credit hours of nursing courses in NSU’s RN to BSN program.
Administrators plan to launch the program for the Spring 2020 semester.
“The RN to BSN curriculum is an opportunity for RNs with either a diploma degree or an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) to return to school and earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree,” said Dr. Ann Deshotels, assistant professor of Nursing. “We primarily recruit in ASN programs because diploma programs are phasing out. We also recruit in hospitals and other health care agencies where RNs are employed.”
The program is offered 100 percent online, but students who live near one of NSU’s campuses in Natchitoches, Shreveport, Alexandria or Leesville can take the needed general education courses, such as a history or a behavioral science, either in the classroom setting or online, Deshotels said. The eight RN to BSN nursing courses are only offered online.
The flat rate tuition cost of $225 per credit hour also applies to the general education courses that some students may need.
“We are so excited that Louisiana’s educational boards have approved NSU’s proposal to provide a substantial cost savings for working, associate degree registered nurses who desire to obtain their baccalaureate degree,” said Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health. “Northwestern’s College of Nursing values the contributions of nurses and understands how hard it is to be a working professional, spouse and parent and return to school. Lowering the cost of tuition for these nurses is one way we can show our appreciation.”
“We recognize that the price of college tuition can have a tremendous impact on a student’s decision to pursue educational goals,” said Dr. Darlene Williams, vice president for Technology, Innovation and Economic Development. “Launching an alternate pricing model for the RN to BSN program will allow NSU to continue to be responsive to the needs of our state while lowering the cost for our students.”
Nurses who hold a BSN have increased opportunities for career mobility such as moving into leadership positions. The BSN is often the first step towards a Master’s of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree where nurses are prepared to become advanced practice registered nurses, nurse educators or nurse administrators.
According to the Institute of Medicine, there is a growing body of research that clearly links baccalaureate nursing education to lower patient mortality rates and fewer adverse patient outcomes.
“Many healthcare agencies are now recruiting BSN-prepared nurses compared to the past due to professional, societal and governmental recommendations,” Deshotels said. “RN to BSN students learn competencies needed to practice in 21st century public, community and critical care settings. They build on the knowledge learned in the ASN program with additional competencies added in informatics and evidence-based practice.”
Ryan Connella, a Shreveport native who lives in Oil City, earned his degree this year. Connella was a charge nurse in the Surgical ICU at Willis-Knighton Medical Center when he enrolled in NSU’s RN to BSN program.
“This program was critical to achieving the goals I had set forth for myself. I needed to complete my BSN to continue to graduate school and NSU seemed to be the perfect fit since I was planning on attending graduate school there also,” Connella said. “I learned a significant amount in regards to research, leadership, ethics and community nursing that I am able to use in daily practice.”
Deshotels said the investment is worth it to achieve professional goals, especially for nurses who are employed full-time.
“Balancing work, family and school takes a highly motivated, responsible and determined individual,” she said. “Faculty advise students to not overload their schedules so that they can be successful, especially if the student plans to continue their education at the masters and doctorate levels.”
“We specifically proposed this tuition amount so that it would cover the basic costs of educating these students, but still be the lowest in Louisiana,” Clawson said. “Providing seamless articulation for the associate prepared nurse to obtain a higher degree, while simultaneously meeting Louisiana’s workforce needs is what NSU does best.”
“We are willing to work with any student to meet their goals and make the program as flexible as possible to accommodate students who work full time,” Morris said.
For more information on NSU’s College of Nursing, visit nursing.nsula.edu.