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Keywords:

  • clinical competence;
  • competencies;
  • competency-based education;
  • dual admission;
  • leadership;
  • public health nursing;
  • RN to BSN

ABSTRACT A new RN/BSN nursing program offers rural students in a western state the opportunity to address significant health care needs on a local level by developing public health leadership competencies in their home communities. The innovative program, funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, makes it possible for RNs to complete their BSN degrees without travel, as they position themselves to provide critically needed health care leadership in their local areas. Partnerships between the university, community colleges, and local health agencies allow students in the RN-to-BSN program to benefit from a streamlined BSN admission process, onsite mentoring, and newly developed courses that lead students to reflect on health needs in their home communities. On the basis of Public Health Nursing Competencies as defined by the Nursing Quad Council (2004), the re-designed curriculum prepares students for public health leadership by encouraging application of competencies while participating in the delivery of essential public health services in their communities. Initial response to this new opportunity indicates that students can develop as leaders by developing public health competencies, and facets of the program may encourage more students to commit to completing the BSN while increasing capacity among PHNs.