Visionaries behind San Jacinto College’s Bachelor of Science in nursing (RN-to-BSN) program had a tough act to follow: associate degree nursing (ADN) with a 50-year success story. But the community needed nurses with higher credentials, 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,” Dr. Rhonda Bell, Central Campus dean of health and natural sciences, said. “It became evident we needed to consider how to go about starting a program such as this.”
Dr. Bell and her faculty team have continued to answer that call by designing the College’s first-ever baccalaureate program.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) have already approved the program. Pending additional approval from the Texas Board of Nursing (BON), the BSN program will open in fall 2020 at the Central Campus.
The vision, however, started a decade ago.
In 2010, an Institute of Medicine report called for 80 percent of RNs to hold BSN degrees by 2020 to keep up with the evolving health care industry. Match that with hospitals’ increasing pursuit of magnet status, which requires at minimum for all nurses to hold BSN degrees.
Recognizing the College’s ability to help meet this increasing demand for higher credentials, San Jacinto College—along with several area community colleges—began the process required to expand programs offered by community colleges. Dr. Brenda Hellyer and other college administrators and faculty engaged local hospital partners to participate in the development and approval process of what would become San Jac’s new BSN program.
The Texas Legislature also understood the growing need and – during the 85th Texas Legislative Session in 2017 – authorized certain community colleges to offer BSN programs.
Following legislative approval, the College’s health science deans and faculty prepared the comprehensive proposals to the THECB, SACSCOC, and BON.
Dr. Bell assembled a faculty team from the Central and North Campuses’ ADN programs. 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. This BSN implementation team contributed to the development of the proposals, curriculum, and program outcomes and tailored the program to the community’s needs.
“Many nurses and nursing educators are retiring. We have an aging workforce,” Benisch-Tolley 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. Our program is going to help them get there.”
Geared toward the working RN, the BSN program will cost the same as general education 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,” Dr. Jammer said.
Based on students’ career goals, San Jacinto College offers multiple pathways to enter the nursing profession. Each program (except BSN) requires students to complete clinical rotation hours and pass a certification/licensing exam:
For prerequisites, admission requirements, and other information, visit www.sanjac.edu.