Dean Janice Smolowitz and Courtney Reinisch, director of Undergraduate Nursing, posing in front of construction site at Partridge Hall.

Rx for Success

School of Nursing opens with inaugural RN to BSN degree program

Dean Janice Smolowitz and Courtney Reinisch, director of Undergraduate Nursing, look forward to moving the program into the renovated Partridge Hall in spring 2017.

The new School of Nursing at Montclair State opened this fall and welcomed its first class of students in the RN to BSN degree program.

This hybrid program is designed to accommodate the schedules of working nurses, who already hold RN degrees from associate and diploma programs. They meet on campus for monthly classroom collaborations and engage in weekly online activities with their instructors.

Come January, when renovations are complete, the on-campus sessions will join The Graduate School in a move to Partridge Hall. The School of Nursing’s new home will feature computer-mediated classrooms, an anatomy lab and nursing lab spaces with dedicated areas where students can develop and hone complex procedural skills. High-fidelity patient simulators will foster collaboration and student decision making, problem solving and patient care skills.

Janice Smolowitz, the founding dean of the School of Nursing, joins Montclair State from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where she served as the senior director of education, professional practice and research, and The Columbia University School of Nursing, where she served as senior associate dean and professor of nursing. Montclair magazine talked with Smolowitz about the School of Nursing and what the future holds for its students.

Why is the RN to BSN degree so important?

While there are different paths to becoming an RN, the BSN is the preferred – or even required – degree for generalist nursing practice. The health care system is rapidly evolving. Nursing care is shifting from an in-patient model to one based on care delivered in the community and across multiple settings. Nurses are increasingly taking on advanced roles and functions that require skill in case management, care coordination, health promotion and disease prevention education, staff supervision, and interprofessional communication. Our RN to BSN program provides working RNs with a course of study that enables them to refine and enhance their current skill sets at a pace designed to meet their individual needs.

As dean, what do you most hope to accomplish?

Montclair State’s rich history will inform the role the School of Nursing will play in improving health care locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Establishing meaningful relationships is key. There are tremendous opportunities for collaboration among programs that can improve the health of the community. I hope to foster and participate in new models of interprofessional education that will successfully prepare nurses for innovative collaborations with consumers and other stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate compassionate, coordinated health care services for diverse populations.

Is the future bright for School of Nursing graduates?

Absolutely. Nationally, it’s projected that employment for RNs with BSN degrees will increase 16 percent by 2024 – higher than the average for all other occupations. According to the American Nurses Association, 89 percent of students who earn a BSN degree are employed within 4 to 6 months after graduation.