The healthcare system continues to grow more complicated, requiring more education for all nurses. An online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program represents a key step on that journey as many healthcare facilities now require a BSN-prepared workforce to attain the highly regarded Magnet status.

These changes are noteworthy given the ongoing nursing shortage across the United States and world, as demand for healthcare professionals has struggled to keep up with a growing number of vacant positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the registered nurse job category will add 1.8 million openings between 2019 and 2029. Maine’s healthcare system is prone to these staffing issues, too.

The University of Southern Maine, in conjunction with the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), offers an online RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, allowing nurses to earn two degrees —a BSN and an MS in Nursing — and gain the academic benefits of two universities. Completing BSN requirements through UMFK’s online RN to BSN program prepares students to continue without a hitch in USM’s online RN to MS in Nursing program in either the Nursing Education track or the Nursing Administration and Leadership track.

How Does a BSN Enhance Patient Care?

The online RN to BSN program from UMFK is ideal for working nurses who require a flexible schedule to attain additional credentials. Offering a foundational set of courses, the program helps graduates gain intensive clinical reasoning skills to enhance the culture of safety wherever their career takes them. Experienced nurses will expand their knowledge base as they grow more familiar with evidence-based practice (EBP).

Research has shown that EBP improves patient care across the board while reducing many of the factors that cause nurses to burn out. As EBP has become crucial to healthcare operations, facilities have seen a decline in costs and increase in overall satisfaction for patients, families and caregivers alike.

The BSN curriculum also incorporates general education courses that foster crucial soft skills proven to benefit interpersonal communication. The more nurses understand the world in which they live, developed through arts and history courses, the more successful they will be at treating their patients rather than just the illnesses.

Building Better Nurses

The skills gained in UMFK’s RN to BSN curriculum prepare students for further education with graduate-level coursework through USM. Students take coursework designed to continuously build their knowledge from the undergraduate to graduate levels, culminating in a Master of Science in Nursing with specializations in either Nursing Education or Administration and Leadership.

Optimal for active nurses dealing with new requirements and young nurses who aspire to enter leadership roles, this shared program opens the door for clinical practitioners at all points in their careers to add value and therefore extend their opportunities in the future. Faculty from both campuses designed the coursework to expedite growth within the nursing population.

“The faculty from UMFK and USM worked together for a year to scrutinize the content and syllabi from all of our baccalaureate and graduate courses to identify any areas of redundancy, areas to emphasize, and developed a way to share our courses and credits to maximize student learning while minimizing repetition of content,” explained Dr. Erin Soucy, Dean of Allied Health, Behavioral Science, and Nursing at UMFK.

A New Generation of Nurse Educators and Leaders

The graduate portion of the coursework adds highly marketable skills to those initiated by the BSN, transforming assessment and treatment techniques into a complex set of abilities focused on team management. While not always required for management positions, the Master of Science in Nursing curriculum allows nurses to have an even greater impact on the patients in their care and the broader community they serve.

An advanced nursing program prepares graduates for doctoral study and further professional development, increasing earning power and expanding personal growth, according to NurseJournal.

The unified RN to MS in Nursing program allows students to grow their salary potential significantly while saving time and money along the way. Whether pursuing the Administration and Leadership or Nursing Education specialization, students have a rare opportunity to receive a CCNE-accredited MS in Nursing degree in as few as two years.

For University of Southern Maine Nursing faculty member Dr. Linda Samia, the program plays a key role in combatting the ongoing shortage. It will further bolster the ranks of nurse educators and other leaders necessary to develop the next generation of nurses.

“[There is] strong market demand for nurse educators and nurse administrators given the age and impending retirements of nurses in both specialties,” said Dr. Samia. “We wanted to fast-track educational opportunities for nurses to strengthen the leadership ranks in the profession.”

Learn more about UMFK’s online RN to BSN program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing:
The History of Evidence Based Practice in Nursing Education and Practice
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
ANCC Magnet Recognition Program

Danville Register & Bee: Why Nurses Need Liberal Arts

25 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Nursing
The U.S. Nursing Shortage: A State-by-State Breakdown

University of Southern Maine:
What Maine’s Nursing Shortage Means to You
Why Get an MSN?