CMU launches online nursing degree

New RN-to-BSN program helps registered nurses achieve a degree in one year

| Author: Ari Harris

Central Michigan University’s new online nursing degree program launching this fall is designed to allow current registered nurses to complete their bachelor’s degree in one year.

In early June, The Institutional Actions Committee of the Higher Learning Commission approved CMU’s request to begin offering the program, and the program is now accepting applications from interested students.

Meeting Michigan’s health care needs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for nurses will grow 15% by 2026, making it one of the nation’s fastest-growing career fields.

Kechi Iheduru-Anderson, CMU’s director of nursing, said a growing nationwide nursing shortage is creating high demand for well-trained, highly skilled nurses in Michigan and beyond. And for nurses hoping to land great jobs with hospitals or health care systems, a bachelor’s degree is often a requirement.

A 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine, now the National Academy of Medicine, said only about half of current registered nurses had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher at the time of its release. Iheduru-Anderson said the same report also recommended that hospitals increase the percentage of nurses with a bachelor’s degree to 80% by the year 2020.

The additional training required to earn a bachelor’s degree is better for patients, Iheduru-Anderson said.

“While most two-year RN programs focus on skill development, the BSN program includes more emphasis on advanced skills such as critical thinking, decision-making and cultural competence. In addition, the bachelor’s degree expands education to include leadership, research, and community and population health,” she said.

“Research has found that nurses who obtain the BSN provide more holistic, better-quality care. Several studies have shown that nurses with greater levels of education experience lower patient mortality rates and better patient outcomes.”

The online-only program is for students who have an active RN license. Students will be able to complete their degree in 12 months or less, Iheduru-Anderson said.

Tom Masterson, dean of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions, said the new program is part of CMU’s ongoing commitment to meet Michigan’s need for well-trained health care professionals.

“We will help fill the gap in nursing education as well as expand our role in improving our health care system,” he said.

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