Western Kentucky University Nursing School Review

Western Kentucky University (WKU) is a large public university in Bowling Green, Kentucky. WKU operates satellite campuses in Bowling Green, the WKU South Campus Academic Wing and in Owensboro, Glasgow, and Elizabethtown/Fort Knox. The University was founded in 1875 as a normal school, and today the University offers associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees in 80 majors and 70 minors.

Students attend WKU from 61 different countries and from 48 of the 50 states. There is an emphasis on study abroad programs with opportunities for students to travel to all parts of the globe. Nursing students who are in the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program often participate in a study abroad program in their first or second year at the University. WKU is known for its international reach and openness to students from around the world.

Nursing Programs

Associate Degree in Nursing

This program is designed for students who want to have a career as a Registered Nurse (RN). The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is open to students with a high school diploma or GED. Students take the University’s required courses for an associate degree, such as liberal arts and sciences plus nursing courses. There are also clinical experiences for students in healthcare facilities in the Bowling Green area. After completing the program, students are prepared to take the NCLEX-RN to receive their license to practice as an RN. Admission to the program is selective and competitive, and admission to the University does not guarantee that a student will be admitted to the nursing program.

Applicants must apply to both the University and to the nursing program. An admission assessment test is required that evaluates the applicant’s skills in math, reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and anatomy and physiology, and an interview may be required as well. Those who have fewer than 10 college-level credits must submit the results of their ACT. If an applicant has earned more than 10 university credits, they must have a grade point average of 2.75 or better in these. Those accepted into the program must have a criminal background check and random drug screenings may be required. A total of 69 credits are necessary for graduation, and the program requires that any student who earns less than 77% on an exam must meet with faculty. A grade point average of 2.0 must be maintained in all nursing and other courses required for the ADN.

LPN to ASN Options

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) may enter the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program and take challenge exams to opt out of beginning level nursing courses. WKU offers other ways for an LPN to complete the ASN degree, such as a variety of delivery methods, scheduling options, and credit for experience. Interested LPNs must contact the nursing department for an appointment to develop a customized plan for completing the program. Admission to the program is selective and competitive. Applicants must apply to both the University and to the nursing program, and acceptance into the University does not guarantee that a student will be accepted into the ASN program.

Other requirements for admission to the program include completion of the entrance evaluation test on math, reading comprehension, and other basic academic skills and an interview if requested. Applicants should have a grade point average of 2.75 or better in their LPN coursework. A copy of the college transcript from the LPN program and a current copy of the LPN license must also be submitted to the nursing program to be considered for admission. Individual students often take different courses that are required for the ASN since each student has completed different programs and liberal arts courses. At the completion of the program, graduates take the NCLEX-PN exam for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN).

The University offers some ASN scholarships and awards that make it possible for students to attend the nursing program. It is also possible to receive financial aid in the form of student loans, grants, and work study programs.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

WKU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) that provides experience in communication, leadership, and critical thinking skills so that graduates are ready to assume leadership roles within a few years of graduation. Students complete experience in many different areas for well-rounded experience. They spend time in surgery, maternity, psychiatry, and pediatrics healthcare facilities in hospitals and in various places in the community. The WKU BSN program has a rate of 100 percent of students passing the NCLEX-RN, the national exam that is required to obtain licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN).

Admission to this nursing program is competitive, and those accepted into the program are admitted when they meet all criteria and have the highest grade point averages out of the group of applicants. Candidates must also complete requisite courses, and grades in science prerequisites are also considered for admission purposes. The HESI Nursing Entrance Exam is required before admission to the nursing program as well. All WKU students who are interested in the nursing program must complete between 45 and 48 hours, or three semesters of the prerequisite courses by the application deadline. Once admitted to the program, students must have the required immunizations, liability insurance, health insurance, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Certificate (CPR), drug screen, and background check. Nursing students must then complete all of the general education requirements for the University plus nursing courses and clinical experience before graduation.

Second BS/BA Degree

A substantial number of students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing decide to complete a second degree by earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). WKU offers a second degree nursing program that allows these students to be exempt from the general education requirements of the University. Applicants must complete prerequisite courses, and they then join the other BSN students to complete their nursing degree in four semesters. Even if a student completes the prerequisites, it does not guarantee admission to the BSN program.

Admission requirements include having a grade point average of at least 2.75. Those who do not have this in their undergraduate studies have the option of earning a grade of at least 2.75 in the prerequisite courses. They must they apply to the admissions committee to have the prerequisite courses count as their admission grade point average. It is important to note that this is not an online or distance nursing program. It is held in the daytime during the week, and students must attend on a full-time basis. The program is available only on the main campus in Bowling Green.

RN to BSN Nursing Program

The Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at WKU is designed for registered nurses who want to complete their bachelor’s degree. Two groups of students who will work together in cohort groups are admitted to the program each semester. This includes a part-time group and a full-time cohort. Students who enter the full-time program must have all prerequisite courses and general education courses completed before joining a nursing cohort. Those who apply to the RN to BSN program must have an Associate Degree in Nursing and they must have been admitted to the University. A total of 36 hours of upper level nursing courses must be completed plus a statistics course, psychology, Consumer & Family Science.

Master of Science in Nursing

WKU offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with several concentrations that prepare students for careers in advanced nursing careers. Special concentrations include Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Administrator. A total of 30 to 40 students are admitted to the program including all of the concentrations. Student must complete 15 credits of core courses plus those required for their chosen concentration.

Admission requirements for the MSN programs include an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 and a BSN. They must have a current RN license as an RN in Kentucky or a nearby state and at least one year of full-time experience. A goal statement explaining why the applicant wants to enter a certain concentration at WKU and three professional references must be submitted, as well as a current resume. Applicants must apply for admission to WKU, and admission to the University does not guarantee admission to the MSN program. Each concentration is discussed below.

Family Nurse Practitioner

This MSN program trains nurses to provide primary care for patients of all ages from infants to the elderly after graduating from this program. After completing 15 MSN core courses, students complete between 42 and 48 credits in this specialty field. There is an optional thesis that consists of the additional 6 credits that add up to 48, but the thesis is optional. Clinical experience is also part of the program as students work under Family Nurse Practitioners and doctors in a variety of settings. Graduates take the national exam to receive licensure to practice as a family nurse practitioner. These advanced care nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and many other healthcare facilities.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Another MSN program offered at WKU is the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in cooperation with the University of Louisville. These professionals provide primary care for psychiatric patients and they also prescribe medications for their mental illnesses. Students in the program must first complete the 15 MSN core courses before beginning the advanced nursing courses in their chosen specialty. A total of 44 credits are required plus clinical experience in psychiatric healthcare settings.

Nurse Educator

This MSN program prepares BSN trained nurses to become instructors in nursing schools, colleges, and universities. Besides the 15 credits that are required for the MSN core courses, students must complete between 39 and 44 additional credits. A thesis of 6 credits is optional. Students complete a teaching internship and learn to design curriculum and assess learning in nursing students.

Nurse Administrator

Western Kentucky University offers a Nurse Administrator program for nurses with a BSN who want to take leadership roles in hospitals and in the community. After completing 15 core course credits, students must complete 33 to 39 credits in leadership courses and in advanced clinical practice.

Post MSN Certificate Programs

RNs who are working as advanced practice nurses who have already completed their MSN may take one of the MSN certificate programs offered at WKU. The specialty areas available are Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Administrator. Students complete the specialty courses related to the concentration that they choose, but they are exempt from the MSN core courses since they have already completed these when they earned their MSN. These are discussed below.

Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

MSN trained nurses may enter the Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program. They take between 42 and 48 credits to prepare them to care for people of all ages, from infancy to the elderly. These advanced care nurses work in private practice, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and in the community. Graduates receive a certificate and must take the national exam for licensure as a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.

Nurse Educator

WKU offers a program for professional advanced practice nurses who want to become nurse educators. They must have their master’s degree in nursing to qualify for admission. Students take only the courses related to this program since they have already completed their MSN. A teaching internship is required for this program that takes between 39 and 44 credits in courses that lead to a certificate as a Nurse Educator.

Nurse Administrator

WKU also offers a certificate program for RNs who have completed their MSN who want to earn a certificate as a Nurse Administrator. Between 33 and 39 credits are required for the program, including clinical experience. Graduates of the program are qualified for leadership positions in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

This program is offered to professional nurses who want to advance their careers in nursing practice and administration. The curriculum is designed for the working nurse who may complete the program on a part-time basis in three years. It can be completed in two years on a full-time basis. A blended format is used for this program, which includes only four on-campus weekend seminars each semester and online coursework as well. The program requires 36 credits to qualify for graduation.

Admission requirements are a MSN from an accredited nursing program and a current RN license. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.25 to be considered for the program. It is also necessary to submit three professional references, a written goal statement, and verification of post-bachelor’s degree practice hours. Applicants must have high-speed internet access and they must have taken a graduate level statistics course within the past three years.

Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd.,
Bowling Green, KY 42101
(270) 745-0111

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