A BSN to PhD Partnership Program
Adejoke B. Ayoola, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor of nursing in the Department of Nursing at Calvin College and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar. Mary Molewyk Doornbos, PhD, RN, is a professor of nursing, also in the Department of Nursing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
It is important to deliver high-quality care to improve health outcomes in the United States. This level of care can only be delivered by well-trained health professionals. Nurses are the single group of health professionals who have the most contact with clients, and are on the forefront of promoting delivery of high-quality care.
One means of addressing the increasing demand to deliver the high-quality care proposed by the Initiative on the Future of Nursing, supported by RWJF and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is the recommendation to increase the percentage of nurses prepared to enter masters and doctoral level education. Graduate studies prepare nurses to produce and use the best evidence in client care, which will improve health outcomes.
Calvin College Department of Nursing (CCDON), a private liberal arts college, and Michigan State University College of Nursing (MSUCON), a public academic institution, began a partnership program in 2012 to address this initiative of the Future of Nursing. This partnership provides opportunity for eligible students from the undergraduate baccalaureate nursing program to enroll in the accelerated BSN to PhD nursing program at MSUCON.
Participation in this partnership program includes organizing seven sessions of a pre-graduate school seminar for the CCDON students. Undergraduate students attend these seminars during their junior or senior years, to explore the various graduate school options within the discipline of nursing with a specific focus on nursing research and advanced practice. Other topics examined during the seminar sessions are the process of graduate education from application to the acquisition of a position following graduate school, national priorities for nursing research, translational research, and evidence-based practice in light of health care reform.
There are different views on whether a student should go straight into a PhD program or work as a nurse for some time before starting a graduate program. Thirty-seven students have participated in our seminar programs in the last two years and some of these students have proceeded to graduate school. Those who are yet to start graduate school have plans to go in the near future. It is exciting to see that all of our students who have proceeded into graduate school are doing well in their studies.
One success story related to the partnership is the acceptance of one CCDON graduate into the BSN to PhD fast-track program at MSUCON. The student adjusted well to graduate school courses and received financial assistance through college grants/graduate assistantship for her first year of studies at MSUCON. She successfully completed her first year in the PhD program with good grades and received a national award for minority students in her second year.
This is the beginning of our success stories and we look forward to more stories like this as this partnership continues.