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First Students Begin New RN to BSN Program

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As patients, we remember nurses for direct care - the medicine they dispense; the symptoms they interpret; the comfort they provide.

Behind the scenes, though, nurses are leaders and crisis managers.

The clinic is short-staffed; triage is needed to calm a chaotic emergency room; a family member is frightened and grieving.  

As Doane College researched its new RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program, officials heard the same request from senior nurses and medical focus groups: Coursework needs to go beyond clinical practice.  It needs to develop knowledge and skills for critical thinking, communication, leadership, problem-solving and conflict-resolution.

In January, the first students enrolled in an RN to BSN program that meets that request. Doane designed the program for licensed, Registered Nurses with an associate degree or Diploma in Nursing who want to advance in the profession. The program allows nurses to combine their academic, clinical and professional experience in health care with a liberal arts education, said Janice Hadfield, dean of undergraduate studies at the Lincoln and Grand Island campuses where students will complete BSN coursework.

Some may finish the required 67 credits of coursework in as little as 18 months. Other students may spread the courses over several years to fit their lifestyles and schedules.  "We've served adult learners for more than a quarter of a century. This program serves RNs with the same expertise," Hadfield said.

Lincoln campusLike many of Doane's programs for adult learners, courses are offered in eight-week terms in the evening hours. Despite the long and varying work shifts of nurses, Hadfield said focus groups showed most nurses preferred night courses, and Doane will be one of the few in the region offering evening courses that are not online programs.

Doane's courses will provide opportunities to apply concepts, theories and research to the RN's clinical practice.  Experts in their respective fields will deliver compelling learning experiences.

"We hire people who do what they teach," Hadfield said.  For example, a professor teaching a course in health care policy has a background in both health care policy-making and politics.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is often necessary for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for admission to graduate nursing programs and advanced practice nursing specialties.  

Doane's program is a natural fit for the changing health care industry, as it shifts to more primary and preventative care and nursing becomes increasingly complex. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the changing industry needs nurses with the skills to practice across multiple settings, make independent clinical decisions, supervise unlicensed aides and support personnel, and guide patients through the maze of health care resources and treatments.

Graduates of Doane's RN to BSN program will have opportunities for advancement in a field with a strong job outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020 the nation will have a shortfall of up to 400,000 nurses.

National health care organizations cite a liberal arts education as especially valuable to the nurses who will fill that shortage.

Research also links nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level with more efficient patient care, Hadfield said.

Some tuition reimbursement programs already await future students of the Doane program, including regional medical centers such as St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island.

For more information:

For the Grand Island campus, contact Jennifer Worthington at 308.398.0800 or

toll-free at 877.443.6263 or

For the Lincoln campus, call 402.466.4774 or toll-free 888.803.6263 and ask to speak to an adviser.  You may also e-mail