The Revolution in Nursing Education is Here

By: Heather Huber, MS RN CNE, director of nursing at Casper College
Nursing program at Casper College

Here comes ReNEW, (Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming)! As part of a statewide consortium, the H.E Stuckenhoff Department of Nursing at Casper College has joined with the other community college nursing programs and the University of Wyoming in the development of a common nursing curriculum to revolutionize nursing education for the state of Wyoming. Faculty have been preparing for this event, and the first ReNEW cohort will be welcomed into the nursing program in the fall 2016 semester.

Why a new curriculum, let alone a revolutionary statewide plan? The answer can be found in the proposal developed though a collaborative effort by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Beginning in 2008, these two entities worked together to explore transforming nursing education to meet the needs of the future. Recognizing the continual advances in healthcare and anticipating the challenges in the coming years, the IOM made several recommendations directed to nursing education, leadership and workforce policy. In their 2010 report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” the recommendation was made to increase the proportion of baccalaureate prepared nurses to 80 percent by 2020. They acknowledged that this would require collaboration and contributions from all sectors of higher education.

A recent Wyoming Workforce Services report projected the demand for nursing in the year 2020 at 5,800 RNs. The current number of 3,300 and the estimated retirement of nurses indicated a shortage of 57 percent. In addition, more employers are beginning to hire BSN prepared nurses, or requiring newly hired ADN nurses to obtain their BSN within a specified time. It was obvious that it would take a team effort to address the demand for nurses in the state. Following the lead from the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education, nurse educators from around Wyoming joined with nurses from various fields of practice and medical facilities to meet the challenge of the IOM recommendations.

Hence, the ReNEW curriculum, which is a baccalaureate curriculum with an associate degree benchmark. Under the ReNEW curriculum, persons who enter a nursing program at a community college in Wyoming will be able to complete their ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing), take the national licensure exam (NCLEX-RN), and begin working as a registered nurse. Upon achieving their RN license and having completed their BSN prerequisites, the ADN graduate can then move seamlessly toward their baccalaureate degree in nursing through online classes at the University of Wyoming in two additional semesters.

In addition, references in the health sciences literature document the need for educational reform to adequately prepare nursing graduates to enter into practice. The ReNEW curriculum has been designed using principles related to concept-based curriculum and student-centered learning pedagogies. This departure from the historic content-laden curriculum offers the advantage of managing the ever-changing health care environment and facilitates best practice teaching strategies. The change to conceptual learning also promotes critical thinking skills and use of resources for evidence-based practice necessary for safe nursing care.

The profession of nursing has many challenges ahead while facing the evolving demands of an aging population and an ever-changing health care system. The nurses educated today need to be well equipped to meet the health care needs of the future for the citizens of Wyoming. ReNEW will help toward achieving that goal. For more information, contact one of the nursing programs in the state.

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Footprints.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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