The voice patients need: Inside ACC’s first bachelor’s degree program in nursing

 “I like being able to make a difference in people’s lives. Patients come to us that are sick or don’t know what’s going on. A nurse is their voice, encourages them, and is just that reassuring presence they need but don’t always get.”

For Austin Community College (ACC) student Jade Spear, being an advocate for patients is a responsibility worth taking on. Jade earned her Associate Degree in Nursing from ACC in August 2018 and immediately enrolled in the college’s first bachelor’s degree program. The RN-to-BSN program provides registered nurses (RNs) a path to earn their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN).

“ACC gave me a deeper look at the community, public nursing, and nursing leadership.”

The RN-to-BSN degree is a post-licensure program. It focuses on preparing nurses to become leaders in complex healthcare settings. Training, Jade says, that’s critically needed for Central Texas. The state is facing a growing nursing shortage. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies projects that demand for registered nurses (RNs) could exceed supply by almost 60,000 by 2030.

“I want to change the problems I see in the nursing field. Being part of this program is allowing me to grow as a nurse and find that voice patients need.”

ACC rolled out its RN-to-BSN program in fall 2018. It targets the more than 7,700 working nurses in Central Texas looking to earn a BSN degree. Jade will be part of the first graduating cohort in August 2019. She plans to use her new skills to help a niche side of nursing.

“Hospice care is misunderstood. People think that if you choose hospice you are giving up and it’s not. People are choosing to live their days better, for however long that is. I want to be able to make a difference where it is truly needed.”

ACC’s RN-to-BSN program prepares nurses for leadership roles in nursing and prepares students to continue on to graduate studies that can lead to more advanced roles such as nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, and nurse educator. The median salary of an experienced nurse with a BSN is about $8,300 more per year than an experienced nurse with an ADN.

“ACC is giving me a chance to reach my goals, without piling on the debt. I am finding options I never knew were out there, like Public Health. It helps our patients get their medical care costs reduced or covered. This is just another thing I can use to help my patients.”

For more information about the program and to apply, visit