James Madison University

Nursing Faculty Works to Remove Barriers for Adult Degree Completion

By Sydney Palese
Posted: April 8, 2013

RSN to BSN Articulation Agreement


A new articulation agreement is in effect between the James Madison University Nursing department and Blue Ridge Community College. The agreement, which is designed to build strong partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions, provides a simplified process for BRCC nursing graduates to enroll in the RN to BSN program if qualifications are met.

Dr. Julie Sanford, department head for JMU’s nursing program, said the agreement will facilitate a more seamless progression of BRCC associate degree nursing graduates into the JMU program for BSN completion.

Dr. Sanford added, “The agreement provides clarity in the program of study for the BRCC student to have all JMU pre-requisites met prior to applying for the RN to BSN program. It [also] provides BRCC [students] with the information necessary for a smooth matriculation to JMU.

“The new agreement reflects JMUs commitment to the needs of our regional partners. Partner agencies in our region are seeking to increase the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses in their work force pool.  This regional change is part of a larger national/state level initiative responding to the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing Report, which set a new goal for educational preparation of registered nurses in 2011.”

The FON report established a nationwide goal that p 80% of all registered nurses be prepared at the baccalaureate level by 2020. This pushed BRCC and JMU to address confusion about the requirements for admission to the RN to BSN program at JMU.  

Though some provisions remain unchanged, including minimum GPA and general education course requirements, the agreement outlines several changes.

“The previous BRCC-JMU Nursing program agreement was for a progression plan that began at the high school level and had been developed from a previous grant initiative,” said Dr. Sanford.  She added that it also had limited success in its implementation.

With the onset of the agreement comes a wealth of benefits. On the student level, Dr. Sanford said the agreement will decrease barriers for BRCC students to continue their education past their associate degree, and more nurses will become baccalaureate prepared.

“Research on nursing sensitive patient outcomes reveal that patients experience fewer complications when nurses are educationally prepared at the baccalaureate level,” said Dr. Sanford.

The agreement will also strengthen the relationship between BRCC and JMU because it encourages their graduates to further pursue their goals of degree completion.

Move to Outreach & Engagement

In addition to the new articulation agreement, the RN to BSN program will be moving to Outreach and Engagement effective August 2013. The transition, which has been in talks for about a year, will remove barriers to adult completion of the degree by simplifying the admission and registration process.

Dr. Nena Powell, the RN to BSN program coordinator at JMU, said outreach and engagement has expertise with the adult learner population as well as adult degree completion and will support the program for continued growth and development.

The transition to Outreach and Engagement will facilitate several changes to the program. Outreach and Engagement will become the point of contact for interested RN/BSN applicants and will facilitate the admission application process. The RN/BSN program will also move to a completely online format.

Despite these changes, however, the nursing department will still review applicants, decide on admissions and provide all curriculum oversight. The courses will remain largely the same and continue to be taught by nursing faculty.

The transition began as a collaborative effort between Dr. Sanford and Outreach and Engagement. Powell said the move was put in place “so that barriers to RN students would be removed and O&E could help with the marketing and administrative support of the program.”