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Why General Education Courses in an RN to BS in Nursing Program?

When completing an RN to BS in Nursing bridge program, it's natural for nurses to focus on the nursing courses because of their direct impact on usable skills in healthcare settings. The tendency is to check off the general education courses as a program requirement and nothing more.

What students are discovering, however, is that the general education courses in URI's online RN to BS in Nursing program supplement the nursing coursework and enhance their experience of the program in ways they didn't expect. These courses cover topics ranging from communication and nutrition to media for medical professionals and the role of women in the natural sciences.

Widen Your Perspective 

Kelly Miller, RN at Rhode Island Hospital and online RN to BS in Nursing student, enjoys the broad learning enabled by the URI program's online discussion boards.

"I enjoy reading everyone's posts when possible; it gives me a perspective different from my own, especially since nurses work in such diverse settings," Miller said. "Plus, we all come from many different geographic areas, and are at different ages and stages in our lives. I find it interesting. It is akin to talking with my fellow students between/after class if I were taking traditional classes."

Speaking of the general education course GWS 220: Women and the Natural Sciences, Miller said, "I learned many different, valuable things in this course. My favorite topic was [American marine biologist and conservationist] Rachel Carson. I knew of her, but not nearly as in depth as I do now. I am planning to take my [almost 1-year-old] granddaughter to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in a few years."

Help Others and Yourself 

Miller also enjoyed the course NFS 207: General Nutrition. "It was interesting. It's about how nutrients work in our bodies and the science of food." Taught by Shira Hirshberg, the course helps students understand nutrition and how it relates to their personal life and choices. Through such courses, nurses gain knowledge that benefits not only their patients but also themselves.

LaNeir Johnson, nurse case manager and May 2017 graduate, said, "I loved the Women in the United States [HIS 146] course. I learned a lot in that class."

Public health nurse Deborah Kosior said, "Now, I understand the importance of pursuing advanced education. I have improved my critical thinking skills. The classes are interesting

Apply What You Learn 

Learning outcomes for the general education courses in URI's online RN to BS in Nursing program include a grasp of the STEM disciplines, social and behavioral sciences, and arts and design. Also included are communication skills, data-driven problem-solving and information literacy. Nurses gain an understanding of their responsibilities in relation to civic, global and diversity/inclusion aspects.

It's important that "professional nursing education be tailored to prepare nursing students as informed, responsible, democratic citizens as well as empowered, competent, compassionate professional nurses," says Mary L. Hermann, associate professor of nursing at Gwynedd-Mercy College. 

The blend of nursing education and general education in URI's program curriculum strikes this balance to prepare nurses for success in any healthcare setting.

Lead With Confidence

While the nursing curriculum prepares nurses for the technical aspects of their work, the general education courses foster critical thinking, problem-solving and clear communication. These skills help nurses think on their feet and take on leadership roles with confidence.

Miller credits the RN to BS in Nursing program with improving her job prospects.

"Rhode Island Hospital is working on achieving Magnet status, so I would not have been hired or able to be considered unless I was in a bachelor's program and able to prove I was working on my BSN. So, it already opened a door -- just being in the program," she said. 

Learn more about the URI online RN to BS in Nursing program.


Sources:

Association of American Colleges & Universities: Linking Liberal and Professional Learning in Nursing Education

Nurse.org: Should I Work for a Magnet Hospital?

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