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UAA to expand capacity of bachelor’s degree in nursing

by Green & Gold News  |   

UAA School of Nursing students Karen Anne Lee and Kathryn Hoke and learn patient assessment, taking vital signs, and giving medication in the nursing skills lab in UAA's Health Sciences Building.
UAA School of Nursing students Karen Anne Lee and Kathryn Hoke learn patient assessment, taking vital signs and giving medication in the nursing skills lab in UAA's Health Sciences Building. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

In response to industry needs and workforce shortages, the University of Alaska Anchorage will expand its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program. This will allow the university to accept 40% more students who are interested in pursuing a four-year degree in nursing.

The expansion will sunset the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Nursing at UAA’s Anchorage and Mat-Su campuses. UAA will continue to offer the A.A.S. at its School of Nursing outreach sites in Kotzebue, Petersburg, Bethel, Homer, Ketchikan, Sitka, Dillingham, Juneau, Kenai, Nome and Valdez.

This change allows for a streamlined curriculum and more efficient use of clinical sites, which are currently shared by both the B.S.N. and A.A.S. programs. These efficiencies will allow the program to produce 10% more RN-eligible graduates than it had been with the B.S.N. and A.A.S. programs combined. 

“This is an example of the School of Nursing being responsive to the needs of both our students and their future employers,” said Carla Hagen, director of the School of Nursing. “Historically, demand for UAA’s B.S.N. degree has outpaced capacity, resulting in some students applying to the A.A.S. as a back-up choice. We’re thrilled to be expanding to allow more students to pursue their first-choice degree program, one that employers have a strong preference for as well.” 

Both the B.S.N. and A.A.S. lead to the eligibility to become a registered nurse, but the B.S.N. degree is largely preferred by employers, especially hospitals in urban areas like Anchorage and Mat-Su. Additionally, there is evidence of improved patient outcomes when baccalaureate-prepared nurses are providing patient care. 

“We also recognize that for many students across Alaska, the A.A.S. in nursing is still the best fit for their educational needs, and we’re happy to be able to continue offering that degree in many locations across the state,” said Hagen. 

Students currently enrolled in the A.A.S. nursing degree in Anchorage or Mat-Su will be able to finish their programs, and pre-major A.A.S. students can still apply for the fall 2022 cohort in Anchorage, and the spring 2023 cohort in Mat-Su. 

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