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Mar
03

BSN To Be

In the two years that I have been an RN (Two years? Really????), one of my biggest complaints/regrets has been the issue of not having my BSN. My original plan had been to attend Duke’s accelerated BSN program and practice for a few years before pursuing any graduate degrees. But life had other plans and I ended up in my alternate entry MS program instead.

While I don’t harbor resentment, I do know that in this current economic climate, not awarding us BSNs at the time we became licensed nurses turned out to be a huge problem. As the BSN became the gold standard for nursing education and hospitals began requiring those three little letters for new grad/entry level positions, people like us were up a creek without a paddle.

Yes, those of us in direct-entry graduate nursing programs have undergraduate degrees in some other discipline. Yes, our pre-licensure curriculum was basically equivalent to an accelerated BSN program. But when the time comes to complete those 100+ online applications and you can’t truthfully check the box that says you have that magical nursing degree, you’re often weeded out in the first round. So we begged and pleaded that our school just understand our predicament and give us our degree.

But it was not to be. The straw that broke this nurse’s back was applying for federal repayment of my pre-licensure nursing school loans and being told that I didn’t qualify because I didn’t have a degree in nursing. Foiled again by a technicality.

Our cohort has been on a bit of a crusade. Not for the sake of being a squeaky wheel, but instead to demonstrate reasonable, rational arguments for why the structure of our program just wasn’t working. We wanted them to hear us not just for our sake but for the sake of every cohort that followed.

And after almost four years of squeaking along (because like it or not, I guess our persistence was somewhat annoying), we were heard.

Step number one was to suspend admission to our direct entry program until they could re-evaluate how it was structured. That was huge. It meant they were acknowledging that the status quo was unsustainable and they wanted to rethink how to provide a quality nursing education to second-career nurses. I was grateful.

Step number two was a bit of a surprise. They decided to retroactively award currently enrolled students our BSNs, if we applied for the degree! After reviewing the curriculum they decided that we met the undergraduate requirements during our prelicensure coursework and we were entitled to those three little letters after all.

I submitted my application the day we were notified. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the process to play itself out.

You might think it’s silly for me to fight for an undergraduate degree in nursing when I’m a mere 60 days away from earning my MS. But even with a Master’s, including that coveted BSN after my name can help open doors, professionally and academically. I’ve started researching post-graduate educational options (for the future…I’m not crazy), and I’m finding that as a graduate-trained RN with my CNL certification, I won’t count as an advanced practice nurse. So my only other option for applying to DNP programs is through the post-BSN track and then once I’m admitted, to request credit for my graduate level coursework.

So there you have it. We fought hard but it was worth the effort.

Nurse Teeny, BSN, RN … coming your way! 🙂

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