Partnership model development
The Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE) created the progenitor of this model, through development of a competency-based shared curriculum across participating schools (OCNE, 2016). Although the OCNE model was established well prior to the initiation of APIN, neither outcomes nor dissemination were as transformative as hoped (Munkvold, Tanner, & Herinckx, 2012; OCNE, 2012). Many educators outside of Oregon were unwilling to consider the model due to the perceived need for each academic institution to adopt a standardized curriculum, as was done through OCNE. “It’s a great approach but it won’t work here” was a common sentiment.
The current academic progression work has provided important lessons for advancing and disseminating elements of this model on a national scale. Shifting from “shared curriculum” to other paradigms, such as “coordinated curriculum” or “curricular alignment” opened the dialog in many areas. Project sites were demonstrating such a variety of options for implementation that education leaders who had not previously been engaged in academic progression became increasingly intrigued. Dialog shifted from what could not be accomplished to what could. Practice partners had ample opportunity for input and engagement, but the model was able to advance even in areas where employers were less involved.
Community college – university partnerships developed differently across the nation in other regards as well. There was sufficient similarity across sites to allow thought leaders to identify this structure as most useful overall, and sufficient difference to provide comparison across the projects. In each partnership, students with an interest in obtaining the BSN enjoy a streamlined process, with clearer pathways and less redundancy of coursework, but the benefits and efficiencies become more robust as partnerships evolve. Early partnerships often begin with articulation agreements between individual schools and advance through increasing degrees of collaboration. Programs vary widely in the degree of formal infrastructure and integration of curriculum and can be viewed across a spectrum.
National nurse educators have declared clearly their consensus that there is no “one size fits all” academic progression pathway, however the commonalities among partnership programs and the apparent gradations of outcomes provides some direction for all. The spectrum framework allows stakeholders to better recognize their current status and to see clearly how other options might be developed. An important outcome of work to date is that those pursuing improved academic progression do not need to advance in a modulated stepwise fashion, but rather can model on other existing systems as local environments allow. Early outcome data supports higher degrees of integration and infrastructure, but it is not yet clear what degree of integration or which specific elements of infrastructure are needed for the greatest efficiency and effectiveness. Further monitoring and assessment of these various approaches is needed.