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Satisfying Clinical Experience Requirements in Online RN-BSN Programs

Submitted by on May 24, 2012 – 10:21 amNo Comment

Students pursuing an “RN-BSN” baccalaureate degree already hold a valid Registered Nurse license. During the licensure program, students were required to complete a comprehensive set of institution-based lab practice sessions and hospital-based clinical experiences which were closely supervised by clinical faculty and/or qualified preceptors. AACN describes RN-BSN programs, however, in the following way:

RN to Baccalaureate (BSN, BS or Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programs provide an efficient bridge for diploma and ADN-prepared nurses who wish to develop stronger clinical reasoning and analytical skills to advance their careers. RN to BSN programs build on initial nursing preparation with course work to enhance professional development, prepare for a broader scope of practice, and provide a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence care delivery. These programs are growing in importance since many professional practice settings, including Magnet hospitals and academic health centers, now require or prefer the baccalaureate degree for specific nursing roles.

(Source: American Association of Colleges of Nursing,, March 2012.

This can be accomplished by requiring practicing RN students to perform either work-based assignments or assignments that authentically simulate the experience that would occur in a professional setting. Clinical experiences involve or are based upon direct observation of a patient or client in a setting directly supervised by a clinical instructor. In contrast, an application-based assignment can require the nursing student to perform the same tasks and analysis, but involving or based upon a volunteer the student has secured, and not requiring the same level of direct supervision. This enables licensed RNs to complete all required components of an online course without the need for the university to place a clinical instructor at a particular healthcare facility or secure “clinical slots” with healthcare facilities.. Furthermore, this model supports the student’s robust integration of new learning with existing clinical skills.

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