Mar 20, 2023 - News

NAU opening accelerated nursing program in north Phoenix

Illustration of a caduceus wearing a graduation cap.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Northern Arizona University will expand its accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) nursing program to its north Phoenix campus in May.

State of play: NAU-North Valley's 12-month, three-semester accelerated BSN program is aimed at students who already have degrees in fields other than nursing, Janina Johnson, the executive director of NAU’s School of Nursing says.

  • A typical BSN program takes about two and a half years and NAU's "compressed BSN" for students who don't have preexisting degrees takes 16 months with heavier course loads each semester.
  • "By doing that, you are able to enter the workforce more quickly," Johnson says.

Why it matters: Recent studies by the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health found better patient outcomes in hospitals with a larger percentage of nurses who have BSNs.

  • "There's a little bit more theory, evidence, background in the courses versus in an associate's degree program," Johnson says.
  • A BSN education includes courses on leadership, evidence-based practice, health care policy and community health that aren't part of a traditional associate's degree program.
  • The preferability of nurses with BSNs over those with associate's degrees is a long-running debate in the profession, Johnson noted.

Between the lines: NAU got a $6.4 million grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services to expand its nursing program, and some of that money will be used to provide full-tuition scholarships.

  • Those scholarships will be available to students in the accelerated BSN program at the North Valley location through spring 2024.
  • Students who receive the scholarships must work in Arizona for at least four years after becoming an RN.

The big picture: The U.S. is in the grips of a years-long nursing shortage.

  • The Arizona College of Nursing puts our state among the 10 hardest-hit, the Daily Independent reported in January, while Becker's Hospital Review reported last year that 37% of Arizona hospitals had critical staffing shortages, the fourth-worst in the country.
  • Arizona has 8.01 nurses per 1,000 people, the ninth-lowest ratio in the U.S. and below the national average of 9.19, NurseJournal reported in September.
  • 1 in 5 Maricopa County residents considers health care accessibility to be a serious concern, a figure that crept up to 40% in rural parts of the state, according to a study that NAU conducted last year.

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