The Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) Grant
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Academic Progression in Nursing grant is a 2 year, $300,000 project to advance state strategies to create a highly educated, diverse nursing workforce. Nurses are the largest group of health care providers and make a significant difference in the quality of our health. Their academic preparation needs to be ongoing to advance the health of Montanans now and into the future. The grant was created in response to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report The Future of Nursing: Advancing Health, Leading Change. The APIN grant from RWJF focuses on the IOM’s research-based recommendation to increase the percentage of nurses with a BSN or higher degree to 80% by 2020 to improve health care outcomes (Aiken, 2010).
The Montana Center to Advance Health through Nursing (MT CAHN) joins California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington state coalitions to work with academic institutions and employers. These projects will help nurses earn higher degrees and thereby improve patient care and fill the acute shortages of faculty and advanced practice nurses. In particular, the states will encourage strong working partnerships between colleges offering associate degrees in nursing and programs with baccalaureate degrees to create more efficient educational pathways for nurses to transition to higher degrees.
Montana Grant Goals
- Increase the number of hospitals offering incentives to RNs with a BSN or RNs seeking a BSN or higher degree
- Disseminate information about nursing roles and nursing education with the MT CAHN website as the main center for information.
- Establish common admission standards for all associate degree nursing programs.
- Adapt and adopt the current BSN completion curricula at Montana Tech of UM and MSU Northern into a “common” BSN curriculum for associate degree RNs with a “seamless” transition from the ASN to the BSN program.
- Provide an orientation course with CE credits for potential preceptors in community/public health and management /leadership courses for BSN programs.
- Establish a mentor program for BSN completion students in each locale.
Effect on Current ASN Nursing Programs
There is currently a statewide curriculum for ASN preparation that will remain in place. The directors of the programs will discuss establishing standard admission criteria for all programs so that students completing an ASN program will meet criteria to continue their nursing education to a BSN or graduate program. The statewide ASN preparation continues as a significant entry point for students to seek nursing education. The goal is to remove obstacles as students seek to progress with their education to baccalaureate and graduate degrees.
BSN Completion Curriculum
A common curriculum will facilitate the transition of students from the ASN level to the BSN level at state institutions such as MSU Northern or Montana Tech of UM or between the two. With the same, or comparable, nursing courses at each institution, a student will be able to complete the ASN at one and continue to the BSN level at another.
Some hospital employers in the state require BSN preparation for their nurses, but this movement needs widespread support to insure meeting the goal of 80% BSN prepared nurses by 2020. Incentives may include preference for hiring nurses with a BSN, higher pay, time off for education, and tuition reimbursement, or holding the nurse’s position until education is completed.
Preceptor Course for Community/Public Health and Management Courses
Students in a BSN completion program are licensed RNs, but require supervision in unfamiliar clinical settings with nursing roles that are new to them. To develop a cadre of effective preceptors in a variety of settings for community/public health and management courses, we will offer a preceptor course for licensed RNs with a BSN or higher degree who are interested in precepting a BSN student. The faculty member teaching a course is still responsible for negotiating with the preceptor to accomplish the clinical learning objectives.
Mentor Program for BSN Completion Students
A mentor program is intended to help students from a variety of backgrounds, particularly men, Native American, or economically disadvantaged individuals, succeed in achieving their educational and nursing career goals. Mentors will serve as coach or guide for students who want to use this resource.
Reasons to Pursue a BSN or Higher Degree
- Hospitals are increasingly seeking nurses with a BSN because this level of preparation is associated with reduced patient stays and better patient outcomes.
- Patient needs continue to increase in complexity and nurses need competencies in health policy, system improvement, research, evidence-based practice, teamwork, and collaboration to provide high quality care to diverse patients in an ever-changing health care environment.
- BSN education includes in-depth coursework to prepare the graduate for these demands.
- Progressing along the academic pathway from associate degree to baccalaureate and graduate degrees also insures the state has nursing faculty to prepare future students as well as more nurses prepared for advanced practice roles.
Aiken, L. H. 2010. Nursing education policy priorities. Paper commissioned by the Committee on the RWJF Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the IOM.