As demands on health care professionals continue to change amid the coronavirus pandemic, two Bay Area colleges are helping to further the careers of local nurses through RN-to-BSN programs.
An RN-to-BSN program provides registered nurses with the experience necessary to obtain a bachelor’s degree. San Jacinto College’s RN-to-BSN program received approval in fall 2019 and is expected to welcome its first class next semester.
Veronica Jammer, department chair of San Jacinto's RN-to-BSN program, said the program will help give nurses further credentials, which is necessary in the contemporary health care field given the “real big push” recently to have more nurses with bachelor’s degrees at patient bedsides. Having an RN-to-BSN program will also foster opportunities for research and new leadership positions at the college, she said.
“I strongly believe that, when you’re looking at [as professional an occupation] as nursing, the more credentials you have, the better it is for the people that you’re serving,” she said. “This is another arm of the launching pad in providing opportunities for people to become a professional nurse.”
University of Houston-Clear Lake also has an RN-to-BSN program at its Pearland campus and is hosting a live virtual information session via Zoom on July 14. Most RN-to-BSN programs in Texas are not primarily face-to-face, according to a UHCL press release, but both UHCL and San Jacinto’s models are based around in-person instruction.
Karen Alexander, UHCL’s RN-to-BSN program director and assistant professor of nursing, said in the release that the program’s flexible scheduling allows students to continue working, since classes are always on the same day or days each week, and clinical site requirements are hybrid. Still, there is only one fully online course in the program, she said. If nurses are employed by Heath Corp. of America Healthcare, their UHCL tuition will be paid forward, and they will be accommodated with needed time for school, per the release.
San Jacinto’s fall 2020 application period is open through June 30, with preference given to San Jacinto graduates from the north, central and south campuses, Jammer said. Jammer will be one of two faculty members on the board of the RN-to-BSN program; the other faculty member was hired externally and started work June 1, she said. Additional faculty will be added as students advance through the program and enrollment increases.
The program will welcome 30 students for the fall 2020 semester and will continue admitting 30-person classes each semester until fall 2022. RN-to-BSN courses will follow the same model as other technical courses at the college, and coursework will be conducted in eight-week blocks.
Although the rollout of the program could change, with the future of higher education uncertain amid the pandemic, Jammer said the college’s students will rise to the occasion. Support from local employers is essential, as community leaders encourage nurses to move forward with applying, Jammer said.
“One thing that nursing students and nurses always know: you always have to be ready for change,” she said. “Whatever the situation calls for, we are still called to duty and to do our best.”
Editor's note: This story was updated at 10:50 a.m. on June 17 to accurately reflect Veronica Jammer's role at San Jacinto College. A previous version of the story misidentified her as college president.