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Kodiak College to change its Bachelor's of Science in Nursing program

Kodiak College is across from East Elementary and is surrounded by forest.
Kodiak College is across from East Elementary and is surrounded by forest.

Students staying on the island will no longer be able to directly enroll in a four-year degree. Students will instead have to enroll in two different programs to get a Bachelor’s of Science.

There’s a few ways to become a nurse. Two of the most popular routes are two- and four-year degrees to become a registered nurse, or RN, or obtain a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, called a BSN, respectively.

Kodiak College used to offer both programs as well as a third option – an RN to BSN program. But now they’re only going to offer the latter for the higher degree. Jacelyn Keys is the director of Kodiak College, which is an offshoot of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“Can you still get a BSN and never have to leave Kodiak? Absolutely. Does that look different than showing up at the college for four years? It does,” she said. “And one of the significant differences is you’re going to be working for the last year or five semesters of your BSN.

A big shift with the new program is the amount of census credits, or clinical hours, students will be required to have. A four-year nursing degree in Alaska requires about 900 hours while an RN only needs about 600 census credits. Those hours need to be split between specialties like in an operating room or in obstetrics, or OB.

Keys said one reason for dropping the four-year BSN program is that it will help lower barriers and allow students to finish their coursework on-island.

“It’s hard on Kodiak Island to meet your census hours actually working in OB because we don’t have four or five babies being born a day, right?” she said. “I don’t know if we have four or five babies born a month – I don’t know what our stats are there, but I do know that we have to send our nurses to Anchorage for two to three weeks depending on if they can get their census hours while they’re up there.”

The RN to BSN program can then be done online.

The Bachelor’s program is also shifting in part because the person who led it, Margie Mete, is retired.

It’s unclear how the change might affect the local workforce. Keyes has been in touch with representatives at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, the only hospital on the island.

“Providence will, and they’ve been real honest, 100% of the time hire a bachelor’s in science of nursing over an RN,” Keys said.

Providence officials did not provide comment in time for this publication.

Keys said that despite the change, Kodiak College will encourage RN students to prepare for a BSN, even though the courses for the two-year program can be easier.

“It may be overkill for your RN, but we are going to assume that’s not where you’re going to stop because your industry is going to preference the BSN,” the director said.

The last two students enrolled in the BSN program that’s phasing out will graduate next year.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect that Margie Mete is retired. A previous version of the article implied she was still in the process of retiring at the time of publication.