Health Care

UL's online program turns RNs into BSNs

by Leslie Turk

Since March 2012, 26 registered nurses have earned their bachelor of science in nursing through the online program.
UL Lafayette is looking for RNs with associate degrees who want to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing without ever having to drive to the campus.

Because there is more demand than the market can supply for nurses with four-year degrees, an online program is targeting registered nurses who have a two-year associate degree in nursing from an accredited program and want to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing and the additional pay that comes with it.

Luke Dowden, director of the Office of Distance Learning at UL, said in a press release that 349 registered nurses are enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program that started Aug. 26. "If that number holds, we will have achieved our program enrollment goal in less than two years," he said.

The application deadline is Sept. 23 for the next term, which will begin in October.

Because the additional coursework required to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing provides more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, it prepares a nurse for a broader scope of practice and provides a better understanding of issues that affect patients and health care delivery, such as culture and economics, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

National surveys have shown that a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree can earn about 10 percent more than a nurse who holds an associate degree. Recent research has also indicated that better-educated nurses have higher levels of job satisfaction.

Thanks to the flexibility of online courses, some RNs are able to complete the university's RN-to-BSN program in as few as 11 months. Since the first cohort enrolled in March 2012, 26 registered nurses have earned their bachelor of science in nursing through the online RN-to-BSN degree program.

"Students who work as a diploma- or associate degree-prepared nurse at one of our 43 academic partners receive a tuition discount when accepted for enrollment in the UL Lafayette RN-to-BSN online program. Those 43 academic partners include hospitals, organizations and health care systems across Louisiana," said Dr. Gail Poirrier, dean and professor of UL Lafayette's College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

For more information about the RN-to-BSN program, click here.