USM improves RN to BSN degree to help students graduate at reduced cost, earn leadership certificate
The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Professional Nursing Practice has made substantial changes in the Nursing RN-BSN program to boost students’ marketability and expand their opportunities for leadership in nursing, all while decreasing the hours needed to graduate.
These updates to the RN-BSN program include:
- Fewer hours to graduation (only 30 hours), reducing tuition costs
- Sigma Nurse Manager Certificate, expanding leadership preparation
- Nationally recognized Quality Matters Certified course, emphasizing excellent teaching
The changes start with the number of credit hours required to graduate, which have been reduced from 66 to 30 effective fall 2022. With fewer credit hours required to complete the degree, students graduate in three semesters while balancing work and everyday life commitments, reducing the amount to tuition they have to expend.
Dr. Elizabeth Holman, RN-BSN Coordinator and Assistant Teaching Professor, says, “The changes in the program will decrease the cost to the student as well as make the student more marketable in leadership positions.”
The school’s efforts to prepare nurses for leadership include a new management certification. “The Sigma Nurse Manager Certificate is provided by Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society, after the students complete 16 courses and other learning activities,” said Dr. Holman. “The courses and activities have been included in the curriculum for the RN-BSN program, and once all 16 courses have been completed, students earn the Sigma Nurse Manager Certificate. Students will complete all the courses for the certificate during the fall semester of the RN-BSN program. The cost of the certificate is included in the current RN-BSN tuition, so students do not have any additional fees to complete this program.”
The College of Nursing and Health Professions has been working to secure more scholarship funds specifically for the RN-BSN program. Most recently, the college was awarded $100,000 in scholarship funding from the Jimmy A. Payne Foundation, with $50,000 being dispersed this year and $50,000 next year.
The School of Professional Nursing Practice has also added a Quality Matters Certified course, Health Assessment and Health Promotion, to the curriculum.
“This certification ensures that online classes are delivered with the best methods available,” says Dr. Tom Hutchinson, the Dean of Online Learning and Enrollment. “Having this certification means the class offers an extra layer of confidence behind what the students experience.”