Officials from Riverland Community College and Minnesota State University-Mankato on Monday signed a new collaborative agreement that will streamline a process for nursing students to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Through RCC’s latest collaboration with MSU through the Maverick Advance Plan (MAP), the Mankato-based college will offer 100% online training toward a registered nursing degree for those who receive their associate degree in nursing at Riverland.
Nurses who complete their associate degree at RCC will also earn 30 credits toward the RN degree at MSU.
“Historically it’s been difficult to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing because you have to be on campus to get it and so it was very difficult to get nursing students to take such a long road. and this time,” Laura Beasley said. , Dean of Nursing, Health and Wellness at Riverland Community College. “Now they can get it online. They don’t have to be on campus, so it’s very flexible that way. It’s really exciting.”
As part of this plan, students will work directly with advisory teams at both institutions to ensure that prerequisite coursework is completed at Riverland and that all MSU admission requirements are met.
The flexibility of the program is evidenced in the work-education dynamics of many students who graduate from the RCC program, allowing them to work in the field while being able to simultaneously work towards their BS degree with MSU.
“Because we offer this program completely online, it allows them to stay in the workplace,” said Patricia Marincic, dean of the College of Allied Health and Nursing at MSU. “They continue to be employed, they continue to gain nursing experience. They work as RNs, but let them take the next step to get their bachelor’s degree and that’s really a huge advantage without having to leave home to do it.
This streamlined pipeline will allow nurses to enter the industry faster with a higher level of education. This is especially important in the face of a nationwide shortage of nurses that has been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was a shortage of nurses before the pandemic, but after the pandemic the number of nurses needed is huge,” Beasley said, pointing out that a number of nurses left during the pandemic due to pressures. which she exerted on them.
She also said many simply chose to retire because they were eligible.
“Riverland graduates graduate nurses every year, so we try to meet that need,” she said. “Not only do we have to meet this need, but we also have to meet the need for registered nurses.”
According to Laura Schwarz, coordinator of the RN baccalaureate program at MSU, this will not only have a profound effect on nursing, but even on post-nursing roles if graduates so choose.
“With higher education, there are stronger nurses and better patient outcomes,” Schwarz said. “We have a pipeline of baccalaureate nurses who can go on and get degrees. I see these nurses becoming nurse practitioners, which is badly needed in rural Minnesota due to the shortage of positions. I also see them becoming nurse educators, where we have a shortage of nurse educators and leadership positions.
It also opens the door to a healthier hallway for all parties involved in nursing.
“Plus, it contributes to the health of our community,” Beasley said. “A nurse with a baccalaureate degree has better patient outcomes, lower mortality rates, and better quality of patient care.”
This is not the first time that RCC has worked with MSU. In 2015, the two-year college signed a similar deal with MSU through the Future Maverick program transfer path agreed which opened up more pathways to four-year degrees at Mankato.
“It’s imperative that two-year colleges make those kinds of connections with four-year universities to continue their education,” Beasley said.