Lucy Egede wants her father to be proud. She wants more flexibility in her career. Most of all, she wants to contribute to the nursing culture in Nigeria. She can achieve all this with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from San Jacinto College.
Nurses are on the front lines, and we need more of them
“At San Jac, we can quickly get students into the workforce by completing their associate degree in nursing and then return later to complete their BSN -- close to home, close to work” said Dr. Rhonda Bell, Central Campus dean of health and natural sciences.
Egede is among the first cohort of registered nurses in San Jacinto College’s RN-to-BSN program. The cohort began in fall 2020 and will graduate in summer 2021.
After years of researching, gaining legislative support, collaborating with health care partners, planning curriculum, and receiving approvals from regulatory authorities, the College launched its first bachelor’s degree program during what seemed the worst time: a pandemic. But it proved to be the perfect time for nurses deciding to return to school.
Not only do more employers seek BSN-prepared nurses, but the COVID-19 era requires nurses with advanced training and leadership skills. The College’s new program is a cost-effective, convenient pathway for registered nurses to take the next step.
The BSN application period opened April 1, immediately after COVID began spreading nationwide. College leaders, BSN faculty, and marketing staff huddled to determine how to reach prospective students during the pandemic.
“The very audience we are targeting is the nurses on the front lines,” Dr. Bell said.
Dr. Veronica Jammer, RN-to-BSN department chair, adjusted the application period several times to accommodate nurses who were working long hours, unable to think about returning to school. The goal was to meet nurses where they are, then take them further.
“San Jacinto College is the launching pad for nursing students, not their landing pad,” Dr. Jammer said. “This program provides seamless navigation through the professional nursing trajectory.”
This first cohort blends nurses from all backgrounds. One student is new to nursing, having just graduated with her associate degree, while the longest-practicing nurse has worked in the field 38 years.
Although successful in her career, Egede is the first in her family not to have at least a bachelor’s degree. A nurse for more than 11 years, she wants to pursue other options beyond hospice care.
“I am always Googling BSN programs. Then I saw San Jacinto College mentioning BSN. I almost passed out!” Egede said.
She plans to return to Nigeria to improve nursing there: “There are so many issues and concerns I have about how nurses and health care are managed in my mother country.”
Abimbola Ogunleye graduated from the College’s associate degree nursing (ADN) program in 2017. She knew then that she would go for her BSN degree -- and later master’s and doctorate.
Ogunleye waited for San Jacinto College to launch its program after Texas legislators passed a bill allowing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing and applied science and technology.
We have continued to meet the demands of the health care environment
“This is such an exciting, groundbreaking time for San Jacinto College,” Dr. Nichols said. “The program is evidence of the commitment to the communities we serve and our emphasis on excellence in professional nursing education.”
“So far, the BSN program has been great. They have exceeded my expectations,” she said. “They have reached out multiple times to make sure I have the resources needed … and have made sure I am also mentally prepared for the courses.”
The BSN program includes online classes and hybrid. Students focus on health care trends, community health nursing, public/global health policy, legal/ethical considerations, leadership, and other advanced topics. A capstone project will take them through the action research process, including diagnosing a problem, researching solutions, developing an action plan, and evaluating outcomes.
Dr. Edward Nichols, BSN nursing professor, is teaching all the classes.