Brancato: RN to BSN program prepares students for lifelong learning
It makes clear sense that someone who has dedicated most of her career to higher learning would understand the value of continuing education.
“I try to bring in relevant research that is current into my classroom so that students are aware of the changes in healthcare practices that are evolving,” says Nursing professor Vera C. Brancato, Ed.D., MSN, RN, CNE. “This helps to encourage their pursuing new knowledge, since knowledge is always expanding.”
Brancato teaches nursing courses in the RN to BSN program and undergraduate and graduate degree programs. She also advises nursing students and has co-developed coursework in the Nurse Leadership in Healthcare Administration Track of the MSN program.
Brancato brought nearly 30 years of experience to Alvernia when she started in the Nursing department more than three years ago. Her work has spanned nursing practice and academia with numerous awards, honors and publications along the way.
Research is an important aspect of nursing. The RN to BSN program prepares nurses for what will be continuous research and development, according to Brancato.
“Research is the essential foundation to giving quality nursing care,” she states. “As new information is discovered, nurses need to be aware of this evidence so that they can base their practice more on evidence rather than just on tradition or prior knowledge.”
This preparation also means addressing the professional challenges of nursing through class discussions and coursework.
“I try to encourage them [RN to BSN students] to discuss the issues that impact themselves and their patients so that we can look to the evidence to see what has happened and how we might problem solve together to brainstorm some potential solutions,” Brancato says.
“[RN to BSN students] have much to offer since they do come with a wealth of experience. However, learning is life-long and we should never stay stagnant but should strive to improve our practice by continuously learning.”
There have been major changes in health care, and nursing specifically, over the years. The American healthcare system is facing the challenges of an aging population. Meanwhile, more patients are being cared for in community-based healthcare settings rather than hospitals.
Nursing education has needed to change to suit these trends and others.
“Nursing education at the BSN level provides the students with opportunities to explore community health using the Healthy People 2020 guide to health promotion,” Brancato explains. “We are moving to more advanced practice roles such as preparing students with an MSN in nursing education or an MSN in administration and leadership so that students can learn the essential knowledge and skills to work toward the future goals of health care.”
Ultimately, the mission of Alvernia’s healthcare program is to encourage students to develop as ethical moral leaders, which is necessary in the changing face of health care.
“By informing students and nurses about issues that impact the profession and their patients, they can become better informed about how to pursue avenues to make changes,” Brancato says.