Clark College nursing students take part in WSU pilot

Clark College nursing students can take classes toward their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at WSU Vancouver under a pilot program from the WSU College of Nursing.
Clark College nursing students can take classes toward their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at WSU Vancouver under a pilot program from the WSU College of Nursing.

Nursing students getting an associate degree at Clark College in Vancouver can take classes toward their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Washington State University this summer under a new pilot program.  

The “concurrent enrollment program” between the WSU College of Nursing and Clark College, a public community college, is designed to streamline the transition to a BSN.  

“On average it takes 5.9 years before an associate degree nurse goes back to get their bachelor’s degree,” said Vicki Denson, program director of the RN-BSN program at the WSU College of Nursing. “This pilot will get them into a BSN program faster so we’ll be increasing the numbers of BSN nurses able to practice in our state,” she said.  

Nursing students with an associate degree are eligible to take a licensing exam and become registered nurses. However, many hospital systems require nurses to have a BSN degree after a certain number of years on the job. A decade ago the Institute of Medicine called for 80% of registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree, a goal that’s still unmet.  

Denson said the concurrent enrollment program may help a student get through the RN-to-BSN program at WSU faster, depending on when they begin the program. But it streamlines the process for all students, and allows Clark College students to tell employers, “I’m already working on my BSN,” Denson said.  

The pilot program launched this summer with Clark College students taking one or two classes online in WSU’s RN-BSN program. Neither school changed its curriculum for the pilot program, instead tailoring the plans of study to avoid overlap of Clark and WSU courses, Denson said.  

The pilot will be evaluated, then the plan is to offer a concurrent enrollment program to other interested community colleges in the future pending approval from the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Denson said.  

“I was thinking if we received five or six student applications this summer I’d be happy,” she added. “We received 23 applications, so I think that’s a pretty good indication that this type of program is desired by associate degree nursing students.”  

–Story by Addy Hatch