Updated January 27, 2020
It's official. San Jacinto College will launch a Bachelor of Science in nursing (RN-to-BSN) program this fall at the Central Campus.
The BSN program will give working registered nurses higher credentials and greater professional opportunities.
As of late January, the College had received all required approvals from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the Texas Board of Nursing.
How did the BSN program start?
The vision for San Jacinto College's first baccalaureate program started a decade ago. In 2010, an Institute of Medicine report called for 80% of RNs to hold BSN degrees by 2020 to keep up with the evolving health care industry.
The College recognized the time to expand beyond pre-licensure vocational and registered nursing pathways to meet this demand for higher credentials.
"Many nurses and nursing educators are retiring. We have an aging workforce," Susanne Benisch-Tolley, professor of nursing, said. "It's imperative we have BSN-prepared nurses who are able to go on with their degree and get their master's and doctorate."
San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer and other College administrators and faculty engaged hospital partners to discuss what a BSN curriculum should include and how it could benefit the local health care community.
In 2017, the Texas Legislature authorized community colleges to offer workforce-related bachelor's degree programs, including BSN.
Following legislative approval, the College's health science deans prepared comprehensive proposals to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the Texas Board of Nursing.
How do you top excellence?
Visionaries behind San Jacinto College's BSN program had a tough act to follow: associate degree nursing with a 50-year success story. But the community needed RNs with higher education, and the time to act was now.
"Looking at the history of San Jacinto College, we've always answered the call of workforce needs in our area," said Dr. Rhonda Bell, Central Campus dean of health and natural sciences.
Bell assembled a nursing faculty team from Central and North Campuses to develop the program. It included nursing professors Susanne Benisch-Tolley, Katherine Hayes-Daniels, Nisha Mathews, Dr. Edward Nichols, and Dr. Veronica Jammer, who was later named the RN-to-BSN program department chair.
These masterminds assisted with the proposals, created the BSN outcomes and curriculum, reviewed textbooks, and tailored the program to the community.
What will the BSN program involve?
Geared toward the working RN, the BSN program will have the same low tuition rate as other courses, include small class sizes, and focus on face-to-face and online learning opportunities. Participants will also have the same financial aid and educational resources as traditional students.
"The concept of a bachelor's-prepared program at a community college is growing across Texas. For us, the driving force is to be accessible and amenable to our community," Jammer said.
Designed around working nurses' schedules, the BSN program will give RNs flexibility and incentive to earn higher credentials, improving the health care profession.
The program will build on skill sets RNs already use in the workforce while training them in leadership and community/global health. Faculty have woven evidence-based practices based on national and global health initiatives into the curriculum.
Why choose San Jac's program?
While the BSN program will provide RNs with more leadership and research skills, San Jacinto College continues to focus on an even bigger picture: providing an attainable, affordable pathway to earn the degree.
"Why would a student want to come to our program? It's because of how we've designed it," Bell said. "We're nurses. We know how it is to juggle families, school, and work. From the very beginning, we made sure not to lose that vision. We want the nurses in this community to have the opportunity to return to school, but we also want the school to meet them where they are."
We're nurses. We know how it is to juggle families, school, and work. From the very beginning, we made sure not to lose that vision. We want the nurses in this community to have the opportunity to return to school, but we also want the school to meet them where they are.