The frontier nature of Montana amplifies the challenge of providing accessible, quality health care and the great need for a strong nursing workforce. The project goal of preparing 80 percent of the RN workforce to baccalaureate preparation by the year 2020 initiated a statewide unprecedented movementto advance the health of all Montanans.
To increase the number of nurses in Montana with baccalaureate or higher degrees, the Montana Center to Advance Health through Nursing (MT CAHN ) has developed a statewide plan to increase the number of hospitals offering financial and other incentives to RNs with a BSN or to RNs seeking a BSN or higher degree. Additionally, MT CAHN is working to establish common admission standards for ASN programs and to ensure seamless transition from ASN to BSN programs. MT APIN met with all schools of nursing to share information about APIN. From these meetings, common barriers and facilitators of academic progression in nursing were identified and shared with stakeholders throughout the state. Quarterly discussions with nursing program directors led to a common objective across programs: develop a statewide nursing education model that maximizes academic progression toward BSN and graduate nursing degrees to meet the changing health care needs of Montanans. Registrars from Montana colleges and universities developed an electronic roadmap of nursing education developed by MT APIN. APIN staff also facilitated an examination of admission standards for ASN and BSN programs that will be incorporated as a statewide model currently in development. MT CAHN continues to offer a mentoring program for RNs enrolled in state baccalaureate nursing programs. To provide support for mentors, MT CAHN produced an interactive continuing education workshop called “The Art of Mentoring in Nursing.” This workshop describes the process of mentoring and focuses on interactions between the mentor and mentee. Additionally, Montana is piloting an online course for preceptors scheduled to work with students enrolled in two RN to BSN courses. These modules will be offered to cohorts of preceptors working with different programs throughout the state.