School of Nursing

BS in Nursing

This program prepares individuals to begin their nursing practice in a variety of health care settings and in specialty areas. Graduates possess the foundation needed to assume beginning leadership and management positions and to begin graduate studies. The traditional B.S. in nursing and the R.N. studies option are available in both Portland and Lewiston-Auburn. The accelerated B.S. degree program is available only in Portland.

The baccalaureate nursing program requires the completion of a minimum of 120 credits of study and culminates in a baccalaureate degree (B.S.). Graduates of the traditional and accelerated B.S. programs are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

The University policy exempting immunization requirements for students born prior to 1956 does not apply to nursing students. Because health care workers are at a higher risk for certain illnesses, all students must meet the health requirements of the School of Nursing. These requirements are listed in the student handbook, and on the School's website. All health requirements must be met and the documentation must be completed prior to entry into clinical courses, beginning with NUR 306/307. Students are required to provide verification of compliance with health requirements throughout their program. Failure to comply with maintenance of health requirements will result in removal from all courses. Students must be certified in professional rescuer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR certification is  accepted only from the American Heart Association. Students must have  health insurance, equal to or better than the USM Student Health Insurance Plan prior to entry into NUR 306/307.

Students must pay for and complete a comprehensive background check prior to starting NUR 306/307. Students must sign a disclosure agreement allowing the School to provide access to this background information to our clinical affiliates. Affiliates have the right to deny clinical placement based on criminal background. Denial of clinical placement will stop progression in the nursing program.

Students may be asked by some clinical agencies to meet other specific clinical requirements. For example, some agencies require drug screens prior to attending clinical at their agency. Students assigned to these agencies will be required to complete all items required by that specific agency.

The costs incurred by a USM SON student for health requirements and background check may provide for additional loan eligibility and/or can be built into the financial aid costs of attendance/education. Students are required to request consideration by the Financial Aid Office, including providing documentation of the actual costs incurred.

Nursing courses carry additional fees to cover laboratory and clinical costs. A fee is assessed each semester to cover the cost of standardized tests. This fee includes the cost of a review course at the end of the program. Nursing majors must purchase uniforms and lab coats. Because clinical experiences occur in a variety of settings in the southern/central Maine area, students must provide their own transportation to rural as well as urban areas. Professional liability insurance is highly recommended for students in the nursing major and is required by some of our clinical agencies.

Retention Policies

The School of Nursing requires its part-time and full time students to maintain class standing according to hours completed. The following requirements are exceptions or additions to University policies:

Credit Hours  For Good Standing   For Probationary Standing
46-120  2.75   2.5-2.74
25-45  2.75   2.5-2.74
0-24  2.5   2.0-2.49

By maintaining a 2.75 GPA or above during the upper-division years, the student maintains a standard appropriate to professional practice. The student must accomplish, as a minimum, a GPA for good standing according to the number of credits earned.

A student who is unable to maintain a grade point average of 2.75 but whose average remains above 2.5 is on probation within the School of Nursing. If placed on probation, a student has a maximum of two semesters to achieve a satisfactory cumulative GPA or the student will be suspended or dismissed. A student on probation may take support courses to restore their GPA to a level of 2.75 or above, at which point progress in nursing lecture and clinical courses may resume. While on probation, the minimum semester GPA accomplished must be the GPA for good standing according to the number of credits earned (see above) or the student will be suspended. A student is suspended for one semester; the student will be dismissed at the end of the next enrolled semester if the GPA requirement is not met. A student who is unable to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 will not be allowed to maintain matriculation in the School of Nursing and will be required to either change majors, be suspended, or be dismissed from the University according to its policies.

Progression Policies

The lowest acceptable grade in required prerequisite courses is a grade of C.  The lowest acceptable grade in required CON and NUR courses is a grade of C+.

Students must have a USM GPA of 2.75 in order to enroll in NUR 300/301 and 306/307. There must be no more than one year between completion of NUR 300/301, NUR 306/307, and CON 302 and starting NUR 323/325 or the course/courses will have to be repeated. There must be no more than one year between taking didactic/clinical course combinations. Three or more semesters without taking didactic/clinical nursing courses require the student to repeat all didactic/clinical courses. Once a student begins NUR 323/325, the student must complete all degree requirements within four years.

In addition to having a 2.75 USM GPA, requisite to beginning junior-level clinical coursework, a student must achieve a natural science GPA of 2.67. The natural sciences consist of the following courses: anatomy and physiology I and II with labs, chemistry, microbiology with lab, human nutrition, and pathophysiology. Students who do not achieve a natural science GPA of 2.67 after completing all prerequisite courses may not begin junior-level clinical courses. Students then have a maximum of one year between completing NUR 300/301, 306/307 and raising their natural science GPA to 2.67 in order to begin clinical coursework. Science courses may be repeated only once.

Nursing lecture and clinical course combinations must be taken concurrently the first time a student is enrolled in each course. A grade of C or below in a nursing lecture course or an F in a nursing clinical course (see low pass policy) will stop the student from registering for any other NUR clinical, NUR lecture or partnership course. In addition, students who receive a failing grade in a required lecture or clinical course which finishes partway through the semester (or students who withdraw from a required lecture or clinical course partway through the semester) will be withdrawn from all other concurrent lecture or clinical courses (required or elective). The student must achieve a grade of C+ or better, or a passing clinical grade in the course which is repeated before entering the next nursing lecture,/clinical course combination or partnership. A course may be repeated only once.

A student may repeat a maximum of two CON or NUR required courses, clinical or didactic, in which the student receives a grade of C or below. An unsatisfactory grade in a third CON or NUR required course will result in dismissal from the nursing program. If a student receives an F in an elective NUR clinical course, they may not register to repeat that clinical elective or enroll in any other NUR clinical elective without permission of the Director of the School of Nursing.

The Undergraduate Admissions and Advancement Committee will review the academic record of any student who receives unsatisfactory grades in a given semester as follows:

1. Multiple unsatisfactory grades in prerequisite, nursing, and/or support courses;

2. A C-, D, F or L in one or more prerequisite or support courses when repeating the course due to an unsatisfactory grade;

3. A C, D, F or L in required NUR or CON courses when repeating the course due to an unsatisfactory grade;

4. An F in a nursing clinical or partnership course.

Academic actions may include probation, suspension or dismissal from nursing and/or the University. Matters of personal concern to the student will be considered. The Committee will recommend to the Director a decision regarding progression or dismissal. Appeals may be made to the Undergraduate Admissions and Advancement Committee. A request for exception to the policy must be initiated by the student.

The School of Nursing reserves the right to accept and retain only those students who satisfy the requirements of scholarship and health necessary for nursing. A student who admits to or is found guilty of a violation of the American Nurses' Association guidelines for ethical practice (see School of Nursing Student Handbook) is subject to suspension or dismissal from the University. The Maine State Board of Nursing may refuse to grant a license on the basis of violation of academic or professional integrity or on the basis of criminal history record information relating to convictions denominated in Title 5, Chapter 341, Subsection 5301 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated.

Low Pass Grades

Low pass (LP) grades are used in clinical and partnership courses to inform students whose performance is near failing. Students are held accountable to address the weaknesses identified in their performance appraisal with subsequent clinical and partnership faculty. A second low pass grade constitutes an F and stops progression in clinical, didactic and partnership coursework (see above progression policies).

Incomplete Grades

A grade of Incomplete may be assigned by a faculty member when a student, because of extraordinary circumstances, has failed to complete course requirements in a required NUR or CON course. Incomplete grades must be resolved satisfactorily to progress.

Graduation Requirements

For graduation, no general education requirements or prerequisites may be taken pass-fail and no more than three credits of non-nursing elective may be taken pass-fail. Only one C- or D grade from the arts or humanities will be accepted. Otherwise, a minimum grade of C or above in these courses must be achieved. Grades of C- or below are not acceptable in any prerequisite course.

Traditional nursing students graduate in December or May. Summer graduation is limited to students in the Accelerated BS program. To be eligible for graduation with a bachelor of science degree with a major in nursing, the student must have successfully completed all requirements, and a minimum of 120 credit hours with a minimum grade point average of 2.75.

Commitment to Civility

The concepts of community and social justice are central to the mission and philosophy of the University of Southern Maine School of Nursing. Faculty, students, and staff are committed to promoting a healthy and just environment that supports transformative learning, academic integrity, open communication, and personal and professional growth among the diverse members of our academic community. We believe that these commitments are grounded in intellectual openness, in personal and professional accountability, and in the democratic values of inclusivity and mutual respect which are guided by rational discourse and by a relational ethic of care.

We are grateful for the opportunities to learn and work with peoples of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, cultural, political, social and economic backgrounds as well as with people who are disabled and people of different gender, sexual orientation, and age. Acknowledging the ethics and values that underlie the health professions, it is our belief that these ethics and values should be recognized, practiced, and cultivated in our learning and work environments. Our goal is to increase the awareness of students, staff, and faculty to the importance of civility, its implications, and the behaviors that are acceptable and not acceptable in our learning community.

Civility is the art of treating others, as well as ourselves, with respect, dignity, and care. Civility is apparent when we are sensitive to the impact that our communications, practices, and behaviors have on others, and when we acknowledge each person's self-worth and unique contributions to the community as a whole.

As members of the School, we are committed to learning and practicing in ways that support a caring and socially just community. The following are examples of how we create and sustain civility.

  • Support the autonomy and just treatment of self and others by facilitating an open, respectful, and caring environment.
  • Accept responsibility and accountability for one's own behavior when interacting with students, faculty, and staff.
  • Respect and protect the rights and property of others.
  • Speak or behave in a manner that does not disrupt or interfere with the learning or work of others.
  • Practice personal and academic integrity and expect it from others.
  • Demonstrate respect for others by actively discouraging discriminatory conduct, bigotry, violence, coercion or intimidation against any member of the academic community.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to listen and be open to hearing the perspectives of others. This includes actively seeking to hear from and making a safe space for voices of dissent.
  • Explore controversial issues through open dialogue and respectful deliberation.
  • Respect freedom of expression while recognizing that such tolerance does not require agreement with expressed ideas.
  • Engage institutional resources and persons to resolve conflict when necessary.

We will not tolerate harassing or discriminatory conduct of any form. Everyone has the responsibility to foster a safe and supportive learning and work environment. This committment can include any individual asking others to stop disrespectful or abusive speech and/or disruptive behavior. Collectively, faculty, staff, and students in the School of Nursing are responsible for ensuring a safe and supportive learning and work environment.

Since the baccalaureate nursing program includes supervised clinical experiences, the nursing faculty reserves the right to limit enrollments. Admission to the program is highly selective.

In addition to the requirements established for admission to the University, high school students applying to the School of Nursing must complete high school chemistry and biology with labs. SAT or ACT scores for first year applicants, academic record, and a required essay are considered in the application review process. See the admission section of the USM undergraduate catalog for further requirements.

First-year applicants internal to USM with 32 or fewer credits, a GPA of 3.0 and specific prerequisite requirements (completed English and math readiness, English composition or equivalent, anatomy and physiology I or chemistry, and two of the following three social sciences: introductory sociology, human growth and development, or introductory psychology) may apply for a change of major to nursing in consultation with the nursing advisor.

Transfer admission into the nursing major is available according to the number of open seats in a cohort-based system. Applications for the admission of transfer students will be processed once a year. The application deadline is January 15. Applicants will be notified of decisions by mid April. Internal and external applicants may apply for transfer with a minimum of 30 credits, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all prior college work, a minimum GPA of 2.67 in the natural science courses which have been completed (anatomy & physiology I & II with labs, chemistry, microbiology with lab, pathophysiology and human nutrition) and English and math readiness as determined by the University.

Please see the "Learn More" tab for specific program plans.

Students must fulfill the USM general education requirements by completing any one of the following pathways: the USM Core curriculum, the Russell Scholars Program or the University Honors Program. USM general education requirements include coursework fundamental to a baccalaureate education including English composition, quantitative decision making, ethical inquiry, natural and behavioral sciences, arts, and humanities.

In Addition to General Education Requirements, Freshman Year Courses for Nursing Include: Credits
English Composition*3
Anatomy & Physiology I & II with Labs*8-9
Chemistry for the Health Sciences*3
Statistics (prerequisite to CON 321 - Health Related Research)3-4
Introduction to Psychology*3
Multicultural Human Development*3
NUR 100 Introduction to Nursing*3
In Addition to General Education Requirements, Sophomore Year Courses for Nursing Include:
 
Introductory Sociology*3
Microbiology and lab**4-5
Pathophysiology**3
Human Nutrition**3
CON 356 Concepts in Community Health3
*In addition to having completed 24 credits and holding a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75, these courses must be taken before or concurrent with entry into 1st semester junior year courses. 

Junior and Senior Year Nursing Courses

Nursing content at the upper division is organized to facilitate the integration of nursing knowledge and skills and to draw on a foundation of learning from other disciplines. The nursing curriculum provides opportunities for students to develop skills in partnering with various community stakeholders to identify community strengths, resources, and needs. Courses focus on the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health. Students have experiences which involve assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of care for individuals of all ages, in families, groups of clients, and communities across the health continuum. Inpatient and outpatient settings, community health agencies, public health settings, long-term care facilities, schools, and industries are used for clinical experiences.

Students are assigned to a cohort that follows a specific sequence of courses. Junior level clinical courses begin in either the fall or the spring semester in Portland and in the spring semester in Lewiston.

Students progress through lecture and clinical course combinations in the following sequence: Adult/Older Adult Health (NUR 323/325) and Mental Health (NUR 330/331); Reproductive and Sexual Health (NUR 421/422) and Child Health (NUR 427/428); and Management of Critically Ill Adults/Older Adults (NUR 423/413/425). NUR 423/425/413 are taken together as immersion courses in the first seven weeks of the final semester. Practicum (NUR 480) is a seven-week capstone clinical course in the second seven weeks of the final semester. Students must complete the lecture/clinical course combination assigned for practicum placement prior to beginning this capstone experience.

Clinical nursing courses require 28 contact hours per credit except NUR 480 Practicum/Care Management, the final seven-week capstone clinical course. This course requires 168 contact hours, or 56 contact hours per credit. Students must take all required CON and NUR courses at USM.

In Addition to General Education Requirements, First Semester Junior Year Courses for Nursing Include: 
CON 302 Pharmacology**3
NUR 300 Health Assessment**3
NUR 301 Health Assessment Lab**2
NUR 306 Nursing Arts and Science**3
NUR 307 Fundamentals in Nursing Lab**2
**In addition to having a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a science GPA of 2.67,  these courses must be taken before entry into clinical nursing courses (NUR 323/325). 

In Addition to General Education Requirements, Second Semester Junior Year Courses for Nursing Include:

 
NUR 323 Adult/Older Adult Health Nursing  3
NUR 325 Adult/Older Adult Health Nursing Lab 4
NUR 330 Mental Health Nursing 3
NUR 331 Mental Health Nursing Lab 2
       NUR 339 Community Nursing Partnerships I 2
CON 321 Health Related Research (prerequisite: statistics) 3
In Addition to General Education Requirements, First Semester Senior Year Courses for Nursing Include:Credits
NUR 332 Nursing Care of the Older Adult in the Community3
NUR 341 Community Nursing Partnerships II2
NUR 421 Reproductive and Sexual Health Nursing3
NUR 422 Reproductive and Sexual Health Nursing Lab2
NUR 424 Clinically-Applied Genetics3
NUR 427 Child Health Nursing3
NUR 428 Child Health Nursing Lab2
Second Semester Senior Year Courses Include:
 
NUR 423 Management of Critically Ill Adult/Older Adult3
NUR 425 Management of Critically Ill Adult/Older Adult Lab2
NUR 413 Advanced Nursing Skills Lab1
NUR 470 Leadership, Management, and Ethics3
NUR 480 Practicum/Care Management3

Program Information:

Admission to the BS in Nursing Program

  • First-Year Students - Deadline: February 15 for fall admission

    The School of Nursing accepts first year students directly into the bachelors degree program for fall semester. Acceptance is based on high school grades, SAT or ACT scores (if applicable), and meeting the USM requirements for admission.

    Application process for First-year students

NCLEX-RN Pass Rates

For calendar year 2013, the USM School of Nursing NCLEX-RN pass rate was 91.89%. The national rate for baccalaureate programs for the same time period was 85.18%.

Connect With Us