Continuing education is a critical element for all healthcare professionals. There is strong evidence that nurses with bachelor’s degrees often generate better patient outcomes. Therefore, the push for RNs to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is growing. But there are many challenges facing registered nurses who attempt to pursue a BSN. Nursing apprenticeships are one path that may help personnel navigate these challenges.
Currently, pursuing a bachelor’s takes a tremendous amount of investment for nurses—in both money and time. The coursework is expensive, and the additional burden of holding a full-time job is insurmountable for many. This makes it very difficult to entice nurses to return to school, even when tuition assistance is available. Apprenticeships aim to make it easier for nurses pursuing this degree.
The state of Minnesota recently became home to the first nursing apprenticeship program, and it may serve as the model for other programs. There, the Department of Labor and Industry partnered with Fairview Health Services to create an educational model that combines coursework with jobsite training, which is overseen by a qualified professional.
In addition to this, the apprentice is not financially responsible for the training received (similar to other apprentice programs), and the apprentices are granted leave for their classes. There is the additional benefit that the nursing apprentice remains employed while pursuing his or her degree and earns a progressively higher wage. This model tackles both of the major problems by freeing up dedicated time for it and by removing financial barriers. For those institutions seeking ways to increase the number of nurses with BSNs, this model might be the best option.