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By submitting this request for more information, you are giving your express written consent for Lindenwood University and its partners to contact you regarding our educational programs and services using email, telephone or text - including our use of automated technology for calls and periodic texts to the wireless number you provide. Message and data rates may apply. This consent is not required to purchase good or services and you may always email us directly, including to opt out, at [email protected].

Home Blog Core Curriculum of an RN to BSN Program: What to Expect

Core Curriculum of an RN to BSN Program: What to Expect

March 15, 2024

Contributing Author: Alley Bardon

7 mins read

Although nurses are able to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become a licensed registered nurse (RN) after completing an associate degree in nursing (ADN), the preferred educational qualification in the nursing profession is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree—more commonly referred to as a BSN. As a result, universities offer an innovative RN to BSN program that accelerates the path forward for working nurses and streamlines their journey to earning a BSN degree.

Overview of RN to BSN Programs

According to NurseJournal.org, RN to BSN programs were designed to provide nurses with a faster path toward earning their BSN degree. These accelerated degree programs feature a curriculum that builds upon your existing nursing knowledge and skill set, allowing you to graduate in about half the time. An online RN to BSN program offers working RNs the flexibility to balance their existing professional responsibilities alongside their nursing education, which allows more nurses to take advantage of this unique opportunity to advance their careers.

Program Requirements and Admission

Nurses who are interested in the RN to BSN program at Lindenwood University need to have previously completed an ADN degree, a hospital diploma program at a regionally accredited institution, or a state board of nursing-approved program. All applicants also must have successfully passed the NCLEX-RN exam and currently have an active, unencumbered registered nurse license in order to enroll in courses.

To be admitted to the program, nurses must submit:

  • An online application
  • Official transcripts
  • NCLEX-RN results and proof of an active registered nursing license
  • Criminal background check

Students must have fulfilled all required general education and prerequisite courses in order to complete the program in 12 months.

Core Curriculum Expectations

The core BSN curriculum is emphasized as part of the RN to BSN degree program. This program is designed to expand upon an existing nursing foundation and build out specific skills that will help allow you to pursue advanced positions in the nursing field. Additionally, this curriculum prepares students to further their nursing education through graduate studies, such as a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program.

Core Curriculum Components

The RN to BSN curriculum requires students to complete 124 credit hours, and all courses are entirely online. The coursework focuses primarily on expanding existing nursing skills, developing advanced nursing skills, and enhancing nursing leadership skills.

Typically, the program takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months to complete. However, as mentioned, students must have completed all general education requirements and prerequisite courses to finish the program in 12 months.

General Education Courses

The general education courses required as part of the RN to BSN program include:

  • English (6 credits)
  • Communications (3 credits)
  • Humanities (9 credits)
  • Fine arts (3 credits)
  • Mathematics (6 credits)
  • American government or American history (3 credits)
  • Culture and civilization (3 credits)
  • Social sciences (6 credits)
  • Natural sciences (10-12 credits, including one lab course)

These general education requirements are designed to provide nurses with a well-rounded educational foundation, with many courses relating particularly to the field of nursing and the healthcare industry as a whole.

Nursing Core Courses

The bulk of the RN to BSN program consists of core nursing courses, many of which focus on evidence-based care, nursing leadership, ethical nursing, and interprofessional communications.

The specific core courses required for the online RN to BSN program at Lindenwood University include:

  • Professional Identity and Practice: Transitioning to Nursing Leadership
  • Comprehensive Health Assessment for the Registered Nurse
  • Research, Statistics, and Scholarship in Professional Health Practice
  • Informatics in Professional Nursing Practice
  • Healthcare Economics and Policy
  • Transforming Healthcare Through Organizational Systems, Quality, and Safety
  • Interprofessional Collaboration and Leadership for the Registered Nurse (clinical component)
  • Healthcare Promotion and Practice in Public Health and Communities
  • Advancing the Nursing Profession: Expanded Practices and Roles
  • BSN Capstone for the Registered Nurse (clinical component)

Importance of Broadening Knowledge Base

While an ADN equips aspiring nurses with the foundational skills needed to provide basic nursing care to patients, the RN to BSN program broadens knowledge in a way that gives nurses a comprehensive understanding of the nursing field and an advanced understanding of some best nursing practices. By expanding your knowledge base, you can ultimately deliver your patients more personalized care as well as pursue higher-level positions within the field.

Relevance to Nursing Practice

The BN to RSN program is also a highly specialized degree program focused specifically on the nursing competencies required in advanced care practice. The general education requirements provide nurses with a broad, liberal arts education that is essential to becoming a well-rounded professional, while the core courses in nursing focus on the most relevant topics and practices in nursing—giving RNs a valuable education that can be applied in a variety of healthcare settings.

Clinical Practicum Requirements

As with any nursing program, there are clinical practicum requirements included as part of the RN to BSN program. These requirements allow nurses to practice their newly developed skills in a supervised setting, giving them the hands-on experience and confidence required to pursue higher-level positions.

Integration of Theoretical Knowledge

The clinical practicum requirements within the RN to BSN degree program integrate theoretical knowledge, helping nurses apply what they learned within a course to a real-world setting. In studying a theoretical nursing concept during a core course, you are learning more about the field and the best way to address particular situations. However, it isn't until you see that theoretical knowledge play out in a practical setting that you can truly make the critical connections necessary to improve your nursing practice.

Application in Real-World Settings

In addition, clinical practicum requirements provide an opportunity to improve your skill set and enhance the nursing competencies covered throughout the RN to BSN program. For example, when you are working in a healthcare setting as part of your clinical component, you will be able to perform an advanced health assessment under supervision. This practical experience allows you to see how your skills apply in real life and gives you an opportunity to receive immediate feedback that can help you become more confident and self-assured in your nursing skills.

Common Themes in RN to BSN Programs

Whereas the ADN program focuses heavily on basic nursing care and entry-level professional opportunities, the RN to BSN program is designed to provide nurses with a more well-rounded approach to nursing as students explore the best nursing practices across healthcare settings. Here are a few common themes that stand out within the RN to BSN curriculum:

Emphasis on Leadership and Management Skills

Within this accelerated degree program, there is a heavy emphasis on leadership and management skills. Nurses who enroll in this degree program already have a strong working foundation of the best nursing practices and basic patient care, and many are pursuing this degree to elevate their nursing careers. By emphasizing the importance of interprofessional communication, strategic nursing leadership, and empathetic and compassionate patient-centered care, the RN to BSN curriculum offers students an opportunity to hone leadership and management skills that are applicable in numerous healthcare settings.

Incorporation of Information Technology in Nursing

Advancing technology will continue to play a vital role in the evolution of the nursing field. Modern nurses are not only required to have a well-developed set of basic nursing skills, but they also must be able to adapt and adjust in the wake of ever-changing technology. Information technology will be of particular importance in the field—and nurses must have a solid understanding of informatics in nursing and be able to harvest patient data, input it accordingly, and rely on that data to make decisions about the best way to care for their patients. The RN to BSN curriculum core nursing courses cover these essential topics, including informatics in nursing and healthcare organizational systems.

Ethical Considerations in Advanced Nursing Practice

Nurses pursuing advanced nursing practice will have the opportunity to work more closely with patients and physicians as part of a collaborative healthcare team. Thus, BSN-prepared nurses will encounter a wide range of ethical issues and considerations, and it's crucial that they know how to navigate those complex circumstances. The RN to BSN curriculum provides nurses with a comprehensive understanding of some of the most common ethical dilemmas in nursing, and the coursework offers guidance to rely on when they are managing these types of situations.

Common ethical dilemmas and considerations discussed within the RN to BSN curriculum include:

  • Informed consent
  • Patient autonomy
  • Patient confidentiality
  • Incompetence within the healthcare field
  • Social justice in nursing

By keeping these ethical considerations at the forefront of the curriculum, nursing students can better develop an informed and compassionate approach to advanced nursing practice.

Further Your Nursing Education at Lindenwood University

At Lindenwood University, we offer an online RN to BSN program that helps further your nursing education and elevate your career. Our BSN curriculum focuses on evidence-based care, patient-centered care, and nursing leadership, allowing you to build upon your existing foundation of nursing skills. Plus, most students are able to complete this flexible, online program within 12 to 24 months.

Interested in exploring this option? Request more information about our online RN to BSN program today.

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