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M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery Launches Bridge Program for RNs

Bethel’s M.S. Nurse-Midwifery team poses in their department shirts, “Midwives…Bring out the kid in you!”

As a graduate student, Nurse-Midwifery Instructor Katrina Wu learned the value of working alongside midwives with diverse professional backgrounds. In her graduating cohort of 25 midwifery students, only five had done their bachelor’s degree in nursing. Soon, her nursing students at Bethel may be in for a similar experience.

In fall 2017, Bethel’s M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery will launch a bridge program allowing registered nurses (RNs) who have earned a bachelor’s degree in any concentration to apply. Previously, the program only admitted students who had earned their bachelor’s in nursing, so aspiring nurse-midwives without a B.S.N. had to complete Bethel’s RN to B.S. in Nursing to be eligible to apply for the nurse-midwifery master’s program.

For some students—like recent M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery graduate Jenny Olson CAPS’14, GS’16—the journey from RN to B.S. in Nursing to M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery will still be the best option. Olson started her professional career by earning her associate degree as an RN and worked as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse for many years before being encouraged by coworkers to invest in Bethel’s RN to B.S. in Nursing program. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she says. Five days after earning her bachelor’s degree, Olson became one of the first students to enroll in Bethel’s newly launched M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery program. “I just felt like, ‘This isn’t an accident that I’m going to Bethel and they’re starting this program right after I finish,’” she says.

But for others who may have established themselves in a different career before becoming RNs, the bridge program will be a huge time-saver. Ultimately, the option will encourage more qualified, passionate nurses to become midwives. “Nationally, 40 to 50 percent of all nurses have a two-year degree [in nursing] instead of a four-year degree,” says Jane Wrede, nurse-midwifery program director and associate professor of nursing. That fact, combined with the many inquiries the department has received from students who don’t have a B.S.N. but have a bachelor’s degree in another field, makes Wrede confident that the bridge program will be a popular option.

The program will consist of an additional one-year plan of study (fall, spring, and summer semesters) during which bridge students will take baccalaureate nursing courses. After the first year, bridge students may choose from the standard two-year, full-time or three-year, part-time nurse-midwifery program options. Upon completion of the program, bridge students will earn both their B.S. and M.S. in Nursing.  

The addition of the nurse-midwifery bridge program caps a successful year for the nursing department:

  • The first students to enroll in Bethel’s nurse-midwifery program commenced in spring 2016.
  • In fall 2016, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) approved Bethel’s nursing department (CAS, CAPS, and GS) for 10-year reaccreditation.
  • Due to its “practice program” status, the nurse-midwifery program must also be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). Prior to the program’s commencement in 2014, ACME granted pre-accreditation to nurse-midwifery, and this fall the program had a positive site visit for post-accreditation, the results of which will come in early 2017.

Applications are currently being accepted through March 1 for enrollment in the fall 2017 bridge and traditional nurse-midwifery programs. Wu and other faculty hope that the introduction of the bridge program will not only increase enrollment, but also lead to more diverse perspectives in the classroom and a more well-rounded education for traditional midwifery students. “It brought so much depth to midwifery as a discipline to have experts in a variety of different disciplines coming together,” Wu says of her own experience. “I'm very much looking forward to this program launching.”

Find out more about Bethel’s nursing programs.

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