A national and statewide push for registered nurses to advance their education is leading to expanded online offerings for them at Wichita State University.
About 50 percent of registered nurses in Kansas and nationally have an associate degree rather than a bachelor’s degree. The Institute of Medicine has recommended a national goal of raising the number of nurses who have a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020. WSU’s School of Nursing is giving nurses seeking a bachelor’s degree the opportunity to take courses online, which is especially helpful for nurses who live in rural areas, said Betty Smith-Campbell, head of the nursing school.
Another national goal set by the Institute of Medicine is to double the number of nurses who have a doctorate by 2020. WSU is offering an online program for a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree for advanced-practice registered nurses who already have a master’s degree. Wichita State also offers the state’s only program for acute-care nurse practitioners. Many of those courses are online.
There’s evidence that nurses with higher education lead to better health outcomes for patients, Smith-Campbell said, because they can see the bigger picture.
It’s also in WSU president John Bardo’s strategic plan to expand online offerings for other programs, including dental hygienists who are seeking a bachelor’s degree.
More information about nation- and state-wide goals for nursing education can be found at www.kansasactioncoalition.org.