A Nursing Education Model for Second-Degree Students

By Shiber, Stella M. | Nursing Education Perspectives, May/June 2003 | Go to article overview

A Nursing Education Model for Second-Degree Students


Shiber, Stella M., Nursing Education Perspectives


ABSTRACT This article describes and discusses a successful model for an undergraduate nursing major for degreed students that may be begun with as little as one prerequisite course and can be completed in just over 13 months. In designing the program, the nursing major was not changed; all class and clinical hours remain the same as in the traditional model. Prerequisites are kept to a minimum to allow the student to begin the nursing courses promptly and to build on the increased motivation that arises with clinical application of theory. Program outcomes covering 12 years and about 1,100 graduates of this program are presented and discussed.

Key Words Second-Degree Program - Accelerated Program - Nursing Education Model - Nursing Shortage - Nursing Education Outcomes

An article in the May 17, 1989, edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the then-current "nationwide shortage of nurses will worsen unless hospitals improve working conditions and nursing schools attract students who have not traditionally been drawn to the profession" (1). This article was based on a two-year study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund. * The article notes that while the nursing shortage varied in severity from city to city, there was in 1989 an average 15 percent vacancy of budgeted nursing positions in hospitals across the country. Calling for new, experimental programs to attract college graduates with bachelor's degrees to nursing, the article warns about the increasing age of nurses, demographic and technological changes that increase the demand for nurses, the dramatic drop in interest in nursing as a career among college-age students, and the already high labor force participation by nurses. * As we moved into the 1990s, the nursing shortage disappeared, along with most interest in making changes in the education of nurses or the practice of nursing. (See Sidebar I.) Now, however, the concerns reported on in the Chronicle article are at the forefront once again. Indeed, these same concerns are often cited as factors that make the current shortage "different." Except for its date, this article could be written today in its entirety. Nurses are older, the demographic and technological changes described in 1989 have continued, and interest in nursing by the college-age population has declined even more. The lack of any positive change is dramatic.

Requirements for an Accelerated Second-Degree Program In the late 1980s, noting the decrease in the numbers of talented, motivated, and academically excellent applicants - and the need to increase the number of potential leaders in nursing - the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing decided to institute an accelerated second-degree program. The program was carefully planned, based on the experiences of students who had already entered the School of Nursing with a previous degree - about 25 percent of entering students.

Prior to the new program, students with bachelor's or master's degrees were required to complete all prerequisite credits and to take all required upper-division credits, including School of Nursing junior and senior-year electives, to earn the second bachelor's degree with a major in nursing. Faculty and students were aware that previous education and work and life experiences of this student group were not being considered.

A goal was established to design a nursing program that would effectively and efficiently meet the needs of students with previous degrees and expand the pool of bright students entering the nursing profession. This accelerated second-degree program accepted students to begin in June 1989. Academic talent, experience, and motivation for nursing were made the criteria for admission to the program.

This program was unique, as considerable changes made to the prerequisites allowed students to begin nursing courses almost immediately. In addition to a four-year college degree in any major, essential prerequisites were a microbiology course and a course(s) in anatomy and physiology that covered all body systems.

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