BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University’s first cohort of RN-to-BSN students received their degrees at Western’s fall graduation ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 in Carver Gym on Western’s campus.
The group of 24 students is the first cohort to graduate through Western’s new RN-to-BSN Program, which began in September 2013.
Over the course of five quarters, the students have completed coursework in Nursing Leadership, Social Justice in Healthcare, U.S. Health Policy, Global Health, Organizational Change and Interdisciplinary Care Coordination. In addition, all students completed projects with practice partners in the community, including PeaceHealth Medical Center and Medical Groups, Whatcom County Health Department, Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College Nursing Programs, Bellingham Senior Center and the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement.
“Nurses in our program are prepared with a variety of skills to lead the transformation of the healthcare system,” said academic program director, Casey Shillam. “I am incredibly proud of our graduating students and predict that they will be powerful leaders in the nursing profession, advancing the profession and ensuring patients and families have access to the highest quality healthcare available.”
Comprised of four men and 20 women, the cohort represents a more gender-diverse demographic than the nursing practice itself: 20 percent of Western’s first RN-to-BSN cohort is male, while 10 percent of registered nurses in the U.S. – and only 7.3 percent in Washington state – are male, according to a 2008 report by the Washington Center for Nursing.
Within the cohort, 11 students have 1 year or less of clinical practice, while eight members have 2-5 years of clinical practice and five have between 6 and 22 years of practice.
Offered through Western’s Woodring College of Education, Western’s RN-to-BSN Program is designed for associate-degree and diploma-prepared nurses who have completed their pre-licensure Registered Nurse (RN) studies. It provides RNs in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties the opportunity to continue their professional education to the bachelor’s degree level, along with structure to support students’ ability to balance school with busy work, family and personal lives. Classes are scheduled to meet one day per week on Western’s campus.