The state’s two- and four-year college systems have come to an agreement that will help nurses complete their bachelor’s degrees more efficiently.

The agreement was needed because credits earned at community college often didn’t transfer directly or consistently to all four-year colleges and universities.

The agreement makes the path clearer and more straightforward, said Laura McDowell, spokeswoman for the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges.

Under the agreement, students will study for their first three years at a community or technical college. That work includes a full year of prerequisites in biology, math and other college-level courses before students enter that college’s nursing program.

Once they’ve done that and passed the national license exams for registered nurses, they’ll be able to move to a four-year institution for one more year of study. They’ll graduate with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, or BSN, McDowell said.

The national Institute of Medicine is encouraging 80 percent of nurses to have a bachelor’s credential by 2020, and Washington is one of the states that has adopted the goal. The four-year degree is seen as important to help nurses navigate the increasing complexity of the health-care system.

The new agreement makes the “3+1 model,” as it’s called, standard practice throughout the state at all schools, public and private.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or klong@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @katherinelong.