Over the past month I have had numerous opportunities to interact with many of my associate degree and university colleagues in a variety of settings. It began with the National League for Nursing (NLN) National Summit in Las Vegas, where it is always exciting to see many associate degree partners who visit the OADN booth. President Pat Smart and I enjoyed speaking to each of you and sharing the most recent initiatives occurring with OADN. The stories you share of student and program successes are truly a highlight for us. A word of congratulations to NLN’s CEO Dr. Bev Malone and all of her staff for an outstanding summit. A special acknowledgement to NLN’s out-going President Marsha Adams, who has been a genuine leader over the past two years.
It seemed I had only returned from the NLN Summit when I was heading north to Traverse City, MI, on beautiful Lake Michigan. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with the Deans and Directors of the associate degree nursing programs, which are primarily based at the community colleges. The afternoon was a time of sharing regarding OADN initiatives, the numerous issues the colleges are addressing, and the many plans the colleges are undertaking, especially in academic progression work. This time spent visiting with the associate degree colleagues is truly a favorite occasion of mine. There is always a general theme when I converse with associate degree educators and that is the passion for educating the next generation of nurses. There is no doubt of the strong desire and motivation to produce the highest quality graduate nurse possible. A sincere thank you to Dr. Laura Schmidt from Northwestern Michigan College for inviting me to attend the meeting and the hospitality provided. The tour of the nursing program is always a highlight of my trips, and this was no exception. A truly wonderful time!
One of the major challenges in Michigan at the current time is the opportunity for community colleges to confer the RN to BSN degree. Last year legislation was introduced in Michigan for community colleges to offer the RN to BSN and therefore confer the BSN degree. There was legislative agreement for the conferring of some degrees, however nursing was excluded. Although not all of the community colleges would like to move forward with the conferral of the RN to BSN, many believe without this opportunity the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses would be very limited. This in turn may prevent additional academic progression. In fact, during a conversation with an individual who is working on her Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP), she shared that she must travel from her home to obtain internet access. This is a scenario that I have heard numerous times during my travels with the work on academic progression. This is the exact scenario that many associate degree graduates are confronted with as they attempt to continue their education.
Yes, there are discussion points on both sides for community colleges offering the baccalaureate program. However, community colleges in this country traditionally have addressed workforce need. This is a workforce need issue with health care facilities requiring or preferring the BSN. Additionally, RN to BSN programs at community colleges are accredited by a national nursing accredited body, and therefore quality is monitored and evaluated on a continual basis. Community colleges are well-positioned and have the infrastructure to provide this educational access to offer the RN to BSN. Michigan, like other states, is continually reviewing this opportunity as a potential solution for more baccalaureate prepared nurses. OADN continues to monitor this situation and will support our associate degree colleagues in whatever manner needed.
After a very short week, it was time to head to Washington, DC for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). A very special thank you for the continuing invitation to attend the AACN conference. The partnering initiatives with AACN over the past few years has provided dialogue, opportunities, and sharing of ideas and information. I think this demonstrates the inclusivity and the partnership of associate degree and university programs working collaboratively. I continually look forward to the engagement with many of the university deans and directors who are welcoming with many honest discussions. It is only through open and frank discussions that will there be unity of our profession.
My time in DC concluded with a visit to the University of the District of Columbia Community College. This was truly a delightful way to close my visit in DC by visiting with faculty and administration. I am always so appreciative of the invitations to visit the associate degree programs across the country. This visit was no exception. It was truly evident the passion the administration and faculty have for the associate degree students and program.
Today as I head home I am only flying at 27,000 feet, although mentally I still feel like 40,000 feet. The pilot stated there were a few bumps tonight so the flying altitude had to be decreased. I anticipate a few more bumps in the next years, but my commitment to all is to support you during those bumps as we continue to advance the nursing profession.
All the best and wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving,