When Meisha Miller and Michelle Shrout-Bratsveen crossed the stage during Georgia State University’s fall commencement to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree they became another example of the university’s part in addressing the nursing shortage in Georgia.
There is a nationwide shortage of registered nurses (RNs). The employment gap grew during the COVID pandemic and closing this gap is essential, as more than 50 percent of Georgia’s RNs are likely to retire in the next decade.
One way to fill RN positions is by elevating nurses already in the profession, educating licensed practical nurses to become baccalaureate prepared registered nurses.
Georgia State is the only institution in metropolitan Atlanta to offer a seamless LPN to B.S.N. degree program. The program includes classes at the Clarkston and Atlanta campuses.
In 2020, Georgia State developed the new program that allows LPNs to enroll in the bridge degree program and graduate in two years with a BSN. Graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. The bridge program is designed for working LPNs.
Shrout-Bratsveen, an LPN at Emory Ambulatory and Primary Care in Buford, praised the program’s structure.
“For two years, I worked Monday through Thursday, attended classes on Friday and completed clinicals on the weekends,” she said.
Miller, a nurse on staff at Emory’s Winship Cancer Center, added that the program allowed her to work full-time and raise two toddlers (with help from her husband). Like Shrout-Bratsveen, Miller felt that the quality of their education was superior, and the nursing faculty were essential in helping them achieve their goals.
“The instructors are awesome,” said Shrout-Bratsveen. “They are really concerned about us and want you to succeed. It shows in how they instruct and support us.”
“I loved that they [the faculty] were easy to reach,” said Miller. “They always responded in a timely manner, within 24 hours of our emails and texts.”
Shrout-Bratsveen, who returned to nursing school after a decades-long break, previously earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of North Georgia and planned to become a physician’s assistant. However, having three children put those plans on hold and she opted for the LPN program at Lanier Tech and a career in nursing. When Emory Healthcare began a partnership with Georgia State to provide a path for staff LPNs to pursue a B.S.N. degree, Shrout-Bratsveen saw the program as a means of moving up in her profession.
Miller, who is still raising her young family, completed prerequisite courses at Georgia State’s Perimeter College after receiving her LPN from Bauder College. She liked Georgia State’s path to the B.S.N. degree.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity and contacted the coordinator at GPC [Perimeter College] and learned about a presentation for Emory employees,” said Miller
Shrout-Bratsveen investigated other LPN to B.S.N. programs and found that most wanted her to retake her core courses.
“Georgia State took my courses and experience that I already had and built on it,” she said.
Miller and Shrout-Bratsveen are now on a level with traditional B.S.N. degree graduates and look toward futures that may include additional education.
“I would love to work on a master’s degree in nursing at Georgia State,” said Shrout-Bratsveen.
Miller has advice for other LPNs considering additional nursing education.
“It might seem challenging to work and go to school full-time, but it’s not. You just need to be organized. It’s manageable to do both.”
by Angela Arnold Go