Kodiak College, which is part of the University of Alaska Anchorage, will soon make a bachelor’s degree the go-to for aspiring nurses.
In previous years, students have been able to get an associate’s degree at the college and then add classes to build up to a bachelor’s. In fall 2018, the college will revise its program to reflect the changing job market and offer only bachelor’s degrees.
Margie Mete is the associate professor of nursing at Kodiak College. She said not only do hospitals now want job applicants with at least a bachelor’s, but they also want the most educated nurses they can get.
“So, the whole scale, the whole shift in education has moved up along with the baccalaureate program, the master’s program went to the doctorate, and so on,” Mete said.
Mete said that’s a barrier some associate degree students run into once they earn their degrees.
“And when they leave and go to the Lower 48, they call me and tell me that they have trouble finding a job down there, because there’s baccalaureate nurse preference for hiring down there,” Mete said.
Mete said Providence Health and Services hires most of Kodiak College’s local graduates, and the program change is in large part a response to the hospital’s new policy.
Providence communications specialist Carlie Franz said, starting on January 1, 2017, a bachelor’s degree in nursing became a prerequisite for new hires. She said hospitals across the country have been trying to implement this kind of policy change for many years.
“What you get additionally with a bachelor’s in nursing is you learn more leadership skills, and it sort of preps you more to be a nurse leader, so that’s an added advantage and it makes those nurses a lot more marketable,” Franz said.
Franz said Providence will not ask nurses hired before January 1 to go back for further education.