The presentation will explain the procedures involved in creating an innovative admission pathway that facilitates veteran’s abilities to obtain a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing. In the summer of 2015, the nursing department at a University in the United States was awarded a three-year $1 million HRSA grant that allowed the development and implementation of a Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Pathway (VBSN).
The VBSN pathway targets barriers that prevent veterans from transitioning into the nursing profession and accessing education. It has been estimated that over the next five years, approximately 1.5 million service members will separate from the military and will be returning to college and looking for employment (Snyder, Wick, Skillman, & Frogner, 2016). Moreover, it has been suggested that one of the top degrees sought out by veterans is a nursing degree. This is due to interest in the healthcare field and the overall demand for nurses within the job market (http://www.bestcollegesonline.org/top-degrees-for-veterans/). After notification of award, the necessary approvals needed to be obtained as well as the complete development of the VBSN infrastructure that included: the admission process, the awarding of credits, curriculum to support the VBSN pathway, and the development of collaborations and partnerships with internal and external constituents.
The VBSN pathway developed processes that allows qualified veterans the opportunity to test out of designated courses based on demonstration of course competencies. The curriculum at this University is unique in that a block system of curricula delivery, a summative assessment paradigm, and offers veterans academic credit for experience gained during military service. An additional component of this grant was to provide faculty in-services that addressed the physical, emotional, and environmental issues affecting veterans in order to minimize barriers to their transition into the nursing profession. These in-services facilitated the development of a culture of respect for veterans returning to the University setting.
Given the number of veterans retuning to Universities and seeking nursing degrees, it becomes imperative to share the lessons learned in creating a supportive environment for these service members.