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University Steps Up to Fill a Void

September 2, 2012

One of Averett's strategic planning goals is to continuously improve its academic offerings. It's taken several years of hard work and the efforts of many people to make it all happen. But this fall, the University is doing just that with the addition of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree for registered nurses. On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the University celebrated the opening of its Health Sciences Innovative Practice Center, and on Wednesday, Aug. 22 classes began.

Currently, the upper division courses of BSN are primarily being offered at the Innovative Practice Center. The courses address the need for a more highly educated nursing workforce in healthcare. The Institute of Medicine (2010) has recommended that 80 percent of RNs should have a BSN by 2020 due to the increased complexities and challenges in the healthcare field. In addition, research indicates that patient outcomes improve if nursing care is given by baccalaureate prepared RNs. Thus, Averett has responded to help meet the healthcare needs of the citizens in the region by launching the BSN as an affordable, convenient and quality program offering.

Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks described the event as a "significant day in Averett's history and in the evolution of the River District. It is a stake in the ground – and a promise. An aspiration brought to reality of new career pathways for our region."

The bachelor of science in nursing is available to graduates who already hold an associate degree or diploma from an approved nursing program — licensure is not required for admittance to the program. Upon admission to the program, students will learn a variety of skills including health, community and family assessments; interprofessional communication and collaboration; and educational skills for teaching health promotion and disease prevention.

"The BSN provides a strong foundation for more autonomous roles in education, research, practice and leadership, as well as eligibility consideration for admission into graduate programs," said Dr. Mary Condon, professor and chair of nurse education. "Upon graduation, they may be considered to be more competitive in the job market due to their advanced skills and knowledge base."

The goals of the program include offering students a baccalaureate program in nursing steeped in the liberal arts tradition, preparing well-qualified graduates with a generalist perspective, promoting recognition of the need for lifelong learning and instilling a sense of global connectedness in the context of healthcare.

Averett anticipates closure of the application process with the Virginia Board of Nursing for entry-into-practice by January 2013.