Making the Grade through the Front Door: Evaluation and Innovation in a Registered Practical Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

Sue Coffey, Gail M. Lindsay, Marianne Cochrane, Katherine Cummings, Karen Macdonald, Sandra Mairs, Susan Sproul, Shelley Bouchard, Zainab Lulat, Nadia Salamat, Ronald Bell

Abstract


Background: Education of nurses from a diploma to a degree is a global phenomenon. However, bridging is often seen as a ‘backdoor’ route to becoming a Registered Nurse and very little evaluation data exists to challenge this notion. Objectives: This research project was undertaken to explore student characteristics, academic performance, outcomes, and experiences in an RPN-to-BScN Bridging Program. Design: A mixed method design was employed. Student admission and registrarial data were examined in relation to student characteristics and academic performance. Secondary data analysis was conducted on focus group interviews with 110 students that explored their perceptions of the impact of the program on their lives. Setting: Data was collected through University databases and face to face focus groups. Participants: Admission and registrarial data for all students admitted to a nursing bridging program in Ontario, Canada, from 2005-2011 were analyzed. Participants in the qualitative focus group interviews included 110 students across all years of the program. Methods: Descriptive and analytical statistics provide insight into student performance and characteristics. Qualitative data analysis was conducted using NVivo 9 with multi-member teams. Results: Data analysis reveals important insights into student academic performance, including exploration of relevant variables such as ongoing and cumulative GPA, entrance GPA, and program completion. Qualitative analysis provides insight into how studying in the program affects students’ lives. Conclusions: RPN-to-BScN education is not a “back door” to a nursing degree. Rather, it is a front door, as rigorous and as personally and professionally transformative as we expect a 4-year BScN Degree to be.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v4i1.1012

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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