Ginny Wangerin.

Iowa State University plans to launch a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program in the fall of 2018.

Professor Ginny Wangerin, director of nursing education at ISU, says the program should appeal to registered nurses who are already working in the field as well as recent graduates of approved nursing programs.

Wangerin says, “The Iowa State program is designed for nurses who’ve already received, typically, their associate’s degree and their nursing license, so they will be RNs already.” The campus-based program aims to meet a need as more hospitals and health care providers in the state are requiring — or are at least encouraging — nurses to get a BSN degree.

“Looking at the numbers in our community and the graduates from our local community colleges, we’re anticipating about 50 students with each admission,” Wangerin says. “Given they will be in the program about two years, three to four semesters, we expect to reach a capacity of about 200 students over time.”

Nationwide, about 65-percent of RNs have a bachelor’s degree or higher, but the rate in Iowa is only around 46-percent, dropping to nearly 30-percent in rural areas. The program at ISU won’t likely help to reverse the state’s nurse shortage, but Wangerin says there will still be valuable benefits.

“Programs such as this, the RN to BSN, do not necessarily put more nurses in the field, but what it does is advance the education of the nurses that we have,” Wangerin says. “All of the research tells us that leads to safer care and better care.”

Studies find when hospitals or health care providers have more BSN-prepared nurses on staff, there are fewer medical errors, deaths, infections or injuries for patients, and patients spend fewer days in the hospital. Wangerin says about 88 to 90-percent of all nurses in Iowa are female.

Photo courtesy of ISU.