With the move to a 12-month timeframe, the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will funnel more nurses into the workforce to care for patients and populations.
As the country’s nursing shortage continues to be a healthcare crisis, the MGH Institute of Health Professions is redesigning and optimizing its Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program to prepare nurses of the future.
Starting in January 2024, students entering the Boston graduate school’s ABSN program will complete their studies in 12 months. It will maintain its rigorous curriculum in a shorter time period by re-designing its curriculum while incorporating recommendations from the seminal Future of Nursing Report and other statements that call for a better way to educate nurses, with an intentional focus on person-centered care with a health equity lens. And with an educational focus on acute care, graduates will be prepared for all patient-care situations.
“We want to educate newly graduated nurses who can immediately step in and make a difference,” said Dr. Rebecca Hill, Associate Dean of Nursing and the program’s director. “Focusing on acute care means graduates can work in high-acuity, fast-paced settings. At the same time, we have been intentional about self-care and resilience in nursing. Because we need our newest nurses to be able to advocate for not only their patients, but also for themselves.”
An aging workforce, a population that’s becoming increasingly ill and living longer, and a pandemic-caused acceleration of nurse retirements has created a shortage of as many as 300,000 RNs in the United States.
“We are not only responding to changing demands and priorities for nursing education, we are shaping nursing education for today and for the future,” said School of Nursing Dean Dr. Kenneth White, who also is President of the American Academy of Nursing, which represents nursing’s most accomplished leaders in policy, research, administration, practice, and academia.
Students who enroll in the Institute’s program, ranked second in Greater Boston and in the Top 10% in the country according to U.S. News & World Report, receive support from full-time faculty advisors and academic support counselors, and one-on-one clinical experiences with preceptors. “It's individualized, it's personal. It's tailored to student needs,” said Hill.
In the three-semester program, all ABSN students will experience clinical rotations at Massachusetts General Hospital. And, as the MGH Institute is the only graduate school in the Mass General Brigham system, students will also have clinical opportunities in hospitals and community health centers that are part of New England’s largest integrated healthcare system.
Additional clinical experiences are held on the IHP’s Charlestown Navy Yard campus at the Ruth Sleeper Nursing Center for Clinical Education and Wellness, a nurse-led screening, referral, education, and support resource for Charlestown and Greater Boston-area residents. The Center also oversees community service opportunities.
Students are taught by expert faculty, most of whom continue to practice clinically as registered nurses and/or nurse practitioners. The ABSN program has a 99% graduation rate and first-time NCLEX licensing board pass rates are well above state and national averages, which Hill attributes to the use of a clinical judgment model throughout the program that prepares students for the critical thinking needed for increasingly complex requirements for evidence-based patient care. More importantly, the educational ABSN students receive provides the foundation for safe and clinically competent new-graduate registered nurses.
Throughout the curriculum, there is a consistent focus on social determinants of health, equity, and access to health care, which includes the adverse effects of climate change and advocacy for patients, families and communities using a social justice lens to provide optimal care.
“It’s an innovative curriculum to care for diverse populations,” Hill said. “We really want graduates to use a holistic and inclusive approach to caring for patients.”
Graduates can expect to land a job – frequently within the Mass General Brigham system - three to six months upon completing the program. “Being connected to Mass General Hospital and the Mass General Brigham system, both during a student’s education and afterwards, is something that makes our program very unique,” Hill noted.