Through the collaborative work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) and the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA) four promising practices were identified for academic progression. One of the models is the RN to BSN degree conferred by a community college.
Currently, the RN to BSN degree model offers nurses the opportunity for registered nurses to continue their post-licensure education in a community college setting and to receive a BSN degree. AD nurses with an RN license can advance directly to obtaining a BSN, and the community college awards the BSN degree. This model is especially beneficial for nurses who a limited access to other options in their area, and it frequently is more affordable.
RN to BSN programs at community colleges are nationally accredited, transferable degrees that prepare the graduates to further their education. In a 2005 position statement, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) said it supports awarding BSN degrees at community colleges provided the Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice are used and the program is nationally accredited (AACN, 2005).
The RN-BSN at the community college is an innovative response to the need for a more highly educated nursing workforce. In view of the number of new nurses graduating at the AD level, the need for accessible higher education pathways is clear. In a joint position statement released August 2015, by ANA and OADN, “...transforming nursing education remains a priority to facilitate meeting the evolving and increasingly complex demands of the health care system in the United States.
Community colleges are contributing to building the nursing workforce and must continue to play a role in preparing the nursing workforce. The strategies should include encouraging community college–university partnerships and granting community colleges the ability to offer the baccalaureate degree to meet the goal of having 80% of nurses educated to the BSN level by 2020.” (OADN, 2015)
The RN to BSN at the community college model is unique in that the program is taught at and by the community college and the baccalaureate degree is awarded independently by the community college. This model has exceptional potential to increase capacity and access through utilization of existing infrastructure. Community colleges are prevalent across the country, high quality, affordable and provide access to many registered nurses desiring to pursue a BSN.