The Ruth S. Coleman
College of Nursing’s new pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program
will integrate a mental health strand into the curriculum, helping to break
down the stigma associated with mental health care.
determined that the infusion of mental health concepts was a critical component
of the curriculum in order to care for persons across the lifespan who
experience mental illness. The mental health strand will offer an understanding
of the impact of mental illness on the patient, family, and community; and break
down the stigma associated with people with mental illness.
The program will
provide key mental health concepts and practical application within four
specific mental health courses, totaling 27 credits, to provide a holistic and collaborative
approach to caring for individuals with mental health issues. The
overall program will require 120 credits.
The mental health courses
are aligned with several goals of the Nursing’s Voice Initiative, including
expanding nursing’s capacity to provide better mental health services. The
strand will also help to educate nursing students about the rewards of a mental
health nursing career, and ensure that nursing students’ skill sets are
optimized for the latest trends in healthcare delivery.
Nursing’s Voice is a
collaborative partnership lead by the Faye McBeath Foundation, local health
systems, schools of nursing, and community service providers. Nursing’s Voice seeks to help transform
mental health services through enhancing the role of nurses in providing and
“Students will gain
a greater understanding of concepts to meet the needs of persons with mental
illness,” said Kelly Dries, dean of the college. “Instructional strategies will
teach nurses about mental health, break down the stigma associated with mental
health issues, and help to remove barriers to working in the field. We felt
very strongly that these concepts should be embedded within the program.”
The infusion of a
mental health strand into the curriculum is made possible in part by a $25,000
grant from the Faye McBeath Foundation, a private, independent foundation
providing grants to tax-exempt nonprofit organizations in metro Milwaukee.
The college has
offered a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion (RN-BSN) program since
1983, designed for associate degree nursing (ADN) or diploma prepared
registered nurses (RN) looking for enhanced career opportunities, promotions,
and management positions. The new BSN program is a pre-licensure program and is
therefore open to students with no prior nursing experience. As a four-year
degree program, it allows enrolled students to have a more traditional college
An August 2012
academic program analysis by Noel-Levitz, a higher education consulting firm,
reported that only 2% of high school seniors are interested in an associate’s degree
in nursing, however 25% are interested in health professions and health
sciences, including nursing.
pre-licensure BSN program will also be unique as students can select a
concentration in their clinical practice, including nursing experiences in the
Hispanic/Latino community, and faith-based nursing. The Hispanic/Latino
population was selected due to the large Hispanic/Latino community in metro
Milwaukee; the faith-based nursing concentration was chosen for its direct
alignment to the mission of the University.
The new BSN program
will take four years or eight semesters to complete, and is designed to be
delivered face-to-face. The curriculum is
designed to allow students to take a core nursing course early in the program
and not in the sixth semester as with many other programs.
The pre-licensure BSN
program will replace the existing Associate of Science in Nursing program.
However, the existing Bachelor of Science in Nursing RN to BSN Program will continue to serve registered nurses
seeking professional advancement.