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Regents Poised to Approve Expanded Nursing Program at MSU Billings

Montana State University Billings
Credit Montana State University Billings

The Montana Board of Regents is poised to approve a proposal to help nurses with an associate degree (ASN) earn their bachelor of science nurse degree (BSN).

David Trost, president and CEO of St. John’s Lutheran Ministries in Billings, says registered nurses with an ASN have the skills to be excellent nurses.

He says the additional education helps with the transformation taking place in health care.

“Executives like myself seek and desire future nurses with a mastery of writing, communication, advanced assessment and leadership skills that come with the rigors of a baccalaureate degree,” he says.

John Felton, president and CEO of Riverstone Health, says the work today is beyond just the tasks of nursing.

“It’s having frontline people who can look at a system of care and figure out how to make it better not just from the perspective of delivering care to a single patient but delivering care to a population of patients,” Felton says.

The chief nursing officers for both St. Vincent Health Care and Billings clinic also support the program. Both are seeking “Magnet” status which requires them to have a certain level of BSN nurses.

The challenge is to retain their ASN nursing staffs while helping them attain the BSN degree. This proposed program would do that entirely on-line.

“This program will allow associate degree nurses to obtain their bachelor’s degree while maintaining the commitments they have both at work and at home,” says Laurie Smith, chief nursing officer at Billings Clinic.

A half dozen of people spoke during the Montana Board of Regent’s public comment period.  Another 8 submitted written letters of support, including Governor Steve Bullock and the Big Sky Economic Development office.

The MSU Billings proposed RN to BSN program would join similar programs at Montana Tech and MSU Northern in the Montana University system.

The Regents are expected to approve the MSU Billings proposal this morning at their meeting at City College. This fully on-line program is targeted to begin fall semester 2017.

Copyright 2016 Yellowstone Public Radio

Jackie Yamanaka
Jackie Yamanaka has been news director at YPR since 1986. From her home base in Billings, Jackie covers a wide range of issues across Montana and Wyoming. During the Montana Legislative session, she re-locates to the state Capitol in Helena where she has another office.
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