New BSN program to meet critical demand for nurses
BGSU’s Bachelor of Science in nursing is geared for the latest health care needs and a rapidly growing job market
By Pete Fairbairn
Nursing is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States.
Bowling Green State University is launching a new Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree to help meet the nation's demand for more nurses. This historic expansion of the School of Nursing's portfolio continues the University’s 50-year nursing education legacy.
The new BSN program will bring together important curricular innovations, along with new state-of-the-art lab facilities and an impressive lineup of clinical opportunities — all geared to meet the region’s and nation’s most pressing health care needs and position BGSU students for success in a rapidly growing job market. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent through 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
The program is the latest addition to the College of Health and Human Services’ School of Nursing, which is committed to helping students achieve their goals of becoming exceptional health care professionals, serving individuals across all stages of life throughout Ohio, the nation and world.
“We are all very excited to bring our new BSN program into the School of Nursing portfolio,” said Dr. Jim Ciesla, dean of the College of Health and Human Services . “It represents a huge step forward for our nursing program and is a perfect fit for our mission as a college and a University to create public good while really enhancing our students’ experience and prospects for success.”
The BGSU difference
The BSN program includes a proactive approach designed to address a pervasive challenge facing today’s nursing workforce. To meet that challenge, BGSU has introduced two courses specifically focused on building clinical judgment that are unique to BGSU’s nursing program.
“We have found that it’s simply not enough to tell students that they need to ‘think like a nurse’ while caring for patients,” said Dr. Shelly Bussard, director of BGSU’s School of Nursing. “We have to provide more practical instruction that they can carry with them into clinical settings. I believe these new courses will give our students a distinct edge with established clinical judgment skills.”
The School of Nursing has also been working with health care partners in the community to provide meaningful learning opportunities in clinical settings. These crucial clinical opportunities are rich and varied, located in rural and urban settings, community settings, telehealth and much more.
Facilities of the future
The new home to the School of Nursing at BGSU is taking shape in the heart of main campus, with comprehensive renovations underway in the former College of Business annex, now known as Central Hall.
The facility will feature the new, state-of-the-art skills lab and simulation center, which is slated to open in late spring, well in advance of the 2021-22 academic year. The 23-bed lab complex has benefited from a generous donation from the Wood County Hospital Foundation and features computerized manikins that simulate patient scenarios that are realistic, helping students to develop clinical judgment skills.
The lab space will have a full complement of audio/visual equipment to assist students in guided reflection and debriefing sessions, and will be open to students any time of day to practice skills learned in the classroom.
Meeting the demand for nurses
Industry and U.S. labor statistics show the nursing field remains one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. Registered nursing (RN) is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016-26 employment projections, which projected the field to grow by more than 438,000 jobs over that 10-year period.
The bureau also projects the need for an additional 203,700 new RNs each year through 2026 to fill newly created positions and to replace retiring nurses. Recent estimates suggested that the country needed approximately 550,000 new RNs to enter the workforce in 2020 and 2021 to address the shortage of 1.1 million RNs in 2022.
Nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for registered nurse and advanced practice registered nurse services, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Though AACN reported a 3.7% enrollment increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing in 2018, this increase is not sufficient to meet the projected demand for nursing services.
According to Bussard, BGSU is stepping into this gap with new programs, new facilities and a renewed commitment to create public good.
“BGSU has long played a pivotal role in preparing future nurses through innovative pre-nursing courses,” Bussard said. “With excellent faculty, leadership and stakeholders, we will move BGSU into a new era of preparing registered nurses to care for individuals, families and communities.”
A brief history
BGSU has had a 50-year history of providing pre-nursing education as part of a unique consortium with the former Medical College of Ohio, which later merged with the University of Toledo to form the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. A mutual decision was made to phase out the consortium agreement, allowing both institutions to independently build their nursing programs.
Today, BGSU’s School of Nursing is designed to meet the critical demand for nurses, both in the region and throughout the country. In August 2019, BGSU began a fully online RN to BSN program that allows registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma in nursing the ability to continue their education and earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. BGSU graduated its first class of RN to BSN students in December 2020.
The School of Nursing also offers a dual degree program in partnership with Mercy College, with clinical nursing classes held either at Mercy College in Toledo or at BGSU and offering clinical placements throughout Northwest Ohio. BGSU also created a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Industry Certificate, which assists diploma LPN and LPN-to-RN students in seamlessly transitioning to a BSN degree.
With the new BSN program, the pre-nursing course work is similar to what has been offered through the UT consortium and Mercy dual degree programs. However, the nursing major, which comprises the last four semesters of the four-year nursing degree, will now be taught on campus by BGSU faculty.
The time is right
The new BSN program builds on BGSU’s commitment to creating public good and meeting regional workforce needs. The demand for BSN degrees will continue to rise as more workplaces make it a hiring requirement, recognizing data that shows hiring nurses with higher levels of education improves overall quality and patient outcomes. A BSN will also help prepare nurses for leadership roles and career advancement.
“I don't think we could ask for a better time in history to prepare more nurses to enter the workforce,” Bussard said. “The world needs more nurses and BGSU is prepared to provide highly trained registered nurses to care for the most vulnerable among us.”