RN-to-BSN Students Find More Options at USC Upstate

September 22, 2017 at 4:12 pm

As other four-year universities limit on-campus options and adhere to the traditional annual admission cycle for nursing students in RN-to-BSN programs, the University of South Carolina Upstate is helping more students tailor the program to fit their needs.

The program, which is offered at the University Center Greenville, has helped thousands of registered nurses advance their careers by earning Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees in one calendar year. Trish Wade, RN-to-BSN program advisor for the USC Upstate Mary Black School of Nursing, said many of the technical schools that feed the program are actually graduating as many as three classes a year, meaning some students have to wait months to enroll for the traditional fall academic-year cycle.

“We originally started with just the fall. That is considered a very traditional starting time for students,” Wade said recently. “But the students for the RN-to-BSN program are not traditional students. So just fall did not accommodate their needs. We recruit from all 16 of the [technical colleges] throughout the state. They come from hundreds of different hospital systems throughout the state. So the needs of the students made it possible” to add enrollment cycles.

Wade said that now, in addition to fall enrollment, students can start in the RN-to-BSN program in January for the spring semester or in May for the summer semester.

The move was basically a matter of supply and demand, according to Dr. Katharine Gibb, dean of the USC Upstate Mary Black School of Nursing.

“In the past, we would lose students who got tired of waiting for August, and they would go someplace else,” Gibb explained.

Now, with approximately 195 students currently in the program, Gibb said USC Upstate’s RN-to-BSN program is among the largest in the state.

And Wade said the enrollment numbers demonstrate the program’s growing popularity. The first additional enrollment cycle, for the spring of 2016, attracted 12 students; the second additional cycle, in the spring of this year, brought 83 additional nursing students into the program.

In addition, Wade said that while other RN-to-BSN programs are eliminating on-campus coursework in favor of online studies, USC Upstate continues to offer both options. She said 20 percent of the program’s students are currently taking advantage of the on-campus option, which includes one day a week of face-to-face instruction from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

“There’s quite a few students who, with their learning styles, they need to come to campus,” Wade said. “We’ve kept our on-campus program while everyone else is removing it.”