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WSSU introduces self-paced RN-BSN nursing program

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is launching a new self-paced program for registered nurses who are ready to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

The competency-based education (CBE) program, which is completely online, will launch in January with a pilot of five students. WSSU is seeking applications through Oct. 15 for the initial cohort. The program is the first RN-BSN CBE offered at a North Carolina-based university.

“This exciting program allows nurses to study at their own pace,” said Peggy Valentine, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Winston-Salem State University. “An ambitious student could potentially complete the program in less than a year. It is a win-win for the university, hospital systems and health providers across the state.”

Valentine said the CBE program will help WSSU address the nationwide shortage of baccalaureate-trained nurses. A landmark study by the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation purports that by 2020 at least 80 percent of nurses should be prepared at the baccalaureate level. As hospitals across the nation seek magnet certification and recertification, the BSN degree is becoming the minimum degree requirement for many magnet hospitals in the state.

According to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, only about 35 percent of North Carolina’s 106,000 licensed nurses have obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

With the addition of the CBE program, WSSU now both online and self-paced CBE options,  said Dr. Bridgett Sellars, director of WSSU’s RN to BSN Program. 

WSSU ranks as the largest producer of BSNs for African Americans in North Carolina, and the third largest in North Carolina overall. In 2016, WSSU nursing graduates also well exceed state and national first-time pass rate averages on the licensure exam, at 94 percent.

During early September, WSSU’s Division of Nursing is holding listening tours at partner sites to answer questions about the program.

“WSSU is bringing this unique offering as the first nursing program based in North Carolina,” Sellars said. “No other nursing program based in North Carolina offers an individualized program that progresses as the student is able to complete clinical competencies.  WSSU will continue to deliver a quality education experience with faculty members and advisors available here on campus and at our partner sites across North Carolina. We are well positioned to partner with healthcare providers in supporting their goals of increasing the number of nurses educated at the baccalaureate level.”

About CBE

“Competency-based degree program design and delivery organizes a student’s learning around content proficiency instead of time spent in the classroom,” said Michelle Soler, director for competency-based education and assessment for the University of North Carolina System. “Designing assessments for this Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will demonstrate to employers that potential hires not only took a course, but demonstrated mastery of key skills and learning outcomes.”

While the program will use Motivis Learning management software, as with all UNC system competency-based pilot programs, curriculum decisions and content development is controlled by faculty, ensuring rigor and that the programs meet academic and accreditation standards, Soler said.

The curriculum was developed with support from a $75,000 grant from the N.C. Community College System.

Students interested in WSSU’s RN-BSN Program should email:

Note: Article was updated on Dec. 7, 2018, to remove outdated information. 

Dr. Bridget Sellars

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