To fulfill their expanded roles in today’s health care arena, nurses need to achieve higher levels of education. That was a key finding of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report in 2010. The report recommended that the proportion of registered nurses holding baccalaureate degrees increase from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020.
The push for a BSN-credentialed work force has many practicing nurses feeling the pressure to go back to school.
“That decision causes stress. Nurses are fearful about the amount of time it will take, what it will cost and whether they can write papers and take tests after all these years,” said Catherine Earl, associate provost/interim dean of nursing at American Sentinel University. “Thanks to online education, nurses will find earning higher degrees [to be] a lot less intimidating and more flexible than they think.”
American Sentinel University offers an RN-to-BSN program, an RN-to-MSN program and a master’s in nursing program with five specializations, which are all accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. There is also a doctorate of nursing practice in executive leadership and one in educational leadership.
“Research has shown the high-quality outcomes of online education,” Earl said. “We’ve come a long way in training faculty to teach online. Students enjoy the convenience and benefit from the diversity of instructors and classmates, who come from all over the country.”
Students who have a registered nursing license and an associate degree can enroll without taking entrance tests. Because they are awarded 30 semester credits for their RN license and two years of work experience, they only need an additional 30 credits to complete the program.
Tuition for the BSN program is $380 per credit hour, plus fees. Students take one or two courses per eight-week term and usually graduate in 18 months.
“To help smooth the transition for adult learners, every student is assigned a student success advisor, who is there to serve as a student advocate for academic and personal issues that might arise,” Earl said. “We have very high student-retention rate due to our high level of support.”
Students who want to advance their careers with a master’s degree can focus on one that fits their specific goals. American Sentinel offers specialty tracks in case management; infection prevention and control; nursing education; nursing informatics; and nursing management and organizational leadership.
“We’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg in opportunities for nursing informatics but with hospital costs rising, anyone with an infection control degree is going to be very marketable,” Earl said.
The doctoral programs are geared to preparing nurse leaders for senior management positions in health care organizations or dean-level positions in the academic field.
“Nursing has changed dramatically in the past few years,” said Joy Green-Hadden, assistant dean for graduate studies at American Sentinel. “Nurses with advanced degrees will benefit from greater career opportunities, not to mention improved professional fulfillment.”
For information, call 800-729-2427 or go to www.americansentinel.edu.
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