BC Inks Nursing Pact for RN-BSN Students

By Chris Shoemaker | April 5, 2013 | RSS

BC Inks Nursing Pact for RN-BSN Students
Bluefield College’s (BC) new nursing program is now more accessible than ever before, and nursing students across Virginia now have access to one of the most affordable, convenient RN-to-BSN baccalaureate degree programs in the state, thanks to a recent partnership forged between BC and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).


Bluefield College president Dr. David Olive (center) and Virginia Community College System chancellor Dr. Glenn DuBois (right) announce an agreement to make RN-to-BSN degrees more accessible to the state's nursing students.



President Olive and Chancellor DuBois pose for a picture with nursing students from Virginia Western Community College, just a few of the state's community college nursing students who can benefit from the RN-to-BSN agreement between BC and the VCCS.


On the campus of Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) in Roanoke, Virginia, surrounded by officials from both partnering institutions and nursing students from VWCC who could potentially benefit from the pact, Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, and Dr. David Olive, president of Bluefield College, a private Christian college in southwest Virginia, signed a Guaranteed Admission Agreement (GAA) that makes the transition from RN to BSN a seamless pathway between Virginia’s community colleges and Bluefield College.


“Our RN-to-BSN degree is a transformational degree for the Commonwealth and provides not only educational obtainment for nurses, but improves the quality and access to healthcare in our communities,” said Dr. Olive. “We are excited about this new partnership with the Virginia Community College System and the benefit it will have for numerous nursing students to pursue their educations and vocational callings.”


Designed to facilitate the transition of nursing students from Virginia’s community colleges to Bluefield College, the Guaranteed Admission Agreement (GAA) provides VCCS students who graduate with an associate of applied science degree (AAS) guaranteed admission into Bluefield College’s School of Nursing for the purpose of pursing a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN).


As part of the agreement, VCCS students must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale and must have an unencumbered active registered nurse (RN) license and be working as a RN. By participating in the exchange, VCCSstudents are not required to pay Bluefield’s standard application fee and are guaranteed a 20 percent tuition waiver discount off BC’s published tuition rate, in addition to eligibility for other available scholarship funds.


“Virginia’s Community Colleges were created to address Virginia’s unmet needs in higher education and workforce training, and this guaranteed admissions agreement speaks to both of those needs,” said Dr. DuBois. “We are grateful to be working together with Bluefield College on this effort. We are excited about the savings this will mean for students, and their families, as they pursue a career in nursing. And, we think this agreement is an important strategy for helping southwest Virginia address its regional need for more nurses.”


Bluefield College announced the creation of its new nursing program in the fall of 2010 to meet a critical need in southwest Virginia for baccalaureate nursing education. Soon after, the College developed partnerships with regional community colleges to make the nursing program more accessible to RNs and associate degree graduates in southwest Virginia.


In 2011, BC hired Tazewell, Virginia, native Dr. Carolyn Keen Lewis, a nurse with more than 20 years of experience in health care, to direct the RN-to-BSN degree. Dr. Lewis quickly earned accreditation for the program with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and began an additional accreditation process with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), a national voice for America’s nursing education programs.


Delivered primarily online through the College’s inSPIRE degree-completion program -- a convenient, accelerated degree-completion curriculum designed to allow a working adult with prior college credit the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in as little as 13 months -- the RN-to-BSN program is now, thanks to the GAA with the VCCS, easily accessible to nursing students from any one of the state’s 23 community colleges.


“Nurses face many challenges with the realities of healthcare in the 21st century,” said Dr. Lewis. “It’s time that we as educators think out of the box and form agreements that remove hurdles and assist nurses in the transition from associate degree education into RN-to-BSN. We must strive hard to meet the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine that by 2020 80 percent of nurses will be BSN prepared. The BC-VCCS agreement will assist in the accomplishment of this goal, and Bluefield College’s School of Nursing will send the message to associate degree nurses that we are here to assist you to a higher level of education.”


In addition to being more accessible than ever, Bluefield’s RN-to-BSN program is among the most affordable in the region. For example, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnellrecently referred to a partnership between the Virginia Community College System and Western Governors University of Salt Lake City, Utah, as a “more affordable pathway to a baccalaureate degree for nursing students.” Under that agreement, based on the state’s figures, a registered nurse can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University at an estimated cost of $17,000 in tuition and fees. However, at Bluefield College RNs coming from any of Virginia’s community colleges can earn a BSN at a cost of less than $11,000 in tuition and fees.


“The required courses in our program are just $10,720 in tuition. Bluefield College is much more affordable than the state’s Western Governors program,” said Dr. Lewis. “Add the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) available to all Virginia residents, and we are an even better deal.”


The $10,720 BC rate is a 20 percent reduced rate for VCCS students. But, even without the discount, non-Virginia community college students pay just $13,400 for the BSN at BC -- still a better rate than the $17,000 with the state’s Western Governors deal.


In addition to beating the Western Governors program on cost, Bluefield College officials tout the practical component of their program -- the hands-on clinicals that provide students with opportunities to learn in practice environments.


“Pursuing accreditation with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education sets the bar even higher for our program, because the CCNE requires all of its accredited affiliates to incorporate clinicals or practice experiences in their baccalaureate nursing programs,” said Dr. Lewis. “Not all RN-to-BSN programs provide that opportunity, but we do because we know how important clinicals are to prepare students to care for a variety of patients across the lifespan and across the continuum of care.”


Bluefield College formally signed its agreement with the Virginia Community College System at Virginia Western Community College, where ceremony participants toured Virginia Western’s new Center for Science and Health Professions, set to open for classes in the fall of 2013. The approximately $26 million projectwill provide a new home for Virginia Western’s nursing programs, giving students the chance to train for healthcare careers in state-of-the-art labs. The new building’s first floor will consist of an expansive dental clinic, dental labs, classrooms, and offices. The dental clinic will be open to thepublic for free routine oral exams and x-rays. A multi-purpose room and administrative offices will be located on the second floor, in addition to the practical nursing, radiography, radiation, and oncology programs. The thirdfloor will house classrooms for nursing, physics, geology labs and general use. Biology and chemistry labs will be located on the fourth floor, taking intoaccount all ventilation and safety needs.


For more information about the Guaranteed Admission Agreement between Bluefield College and the Virginia Community College System or about BC’s accessible, affordable nursing program, visit www.bluefield.edu/nursing, email , or call 800-872-0176.




Media Contact

Chris Shoemaker, Assistant Professor, Communication