RN-to-BSN program begins this fall

Apr 28, 2010

The NU School of Nursing and Allied Health will launch an innovative RN-to-BSN program this fall that includes online courses. The program is designed specifically for registered nurses with an associate’s degree who want to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The new program will be delivered almost completely online, with just a few instances where students may be on campus or at a health care agency for clinical experiences. Students will do coursework via modules, which include taped lectures, video presentations, discussion boards, Web-based group interactions and other media-rich features. This format allows students to do coursework at a convenient time, completing the program as they continue to work. It also makes it possible for RNs who live in rural areas where a four-year program is not available to earn a BSN degree.

To help develop the curriculum for the new program, Via Christi Health has “loaned” the services of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Carol O’Mara, DNP to Newman for 16 hours a week. O’Mara has been a clinical instructor in several nursing programs, and currently works in the Emergency Departments at the two Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita.

“I think this can be a big win-win,” said Director of the School of Nursing and Allied Health Bernadette Fetterolf, Ph.D. “Via Christi has a number of associate degree prepared RNs, so this could be a good way for them to develop more highly skilled employees, and we get the benefit of Via Christi’s expertise in developing this program.”

“Via Christi is very supportive of RNs continuing their education and completing the BSN degree,” said O’Mara, who will also teach when the program begins this fall. “We highly encourage it, so they can gain in their knowledge and go on to higher levels in their career.”

Fetterolf said the program will be offered at a reduced tuition as one of Newman’s Career Advantage Programs. In addition, the RN-to-BSN curriculum is especially geared to practicing RNs. The courses are designed to incorporate the interests and needs of nurses in practice and to allow them some flexibility in meeting their own profession goals.

Fetterolf noted that Newman and Via Christi have collaborated for many years. The Newman nursing program grew out of the diploma awarding School of Nursing at St. Francis Hospital, now part of Via Christi Health. Via Christi also provides a wide variety of clinical sites for Newman students.

“Via Christi has always been a good partner,” Fetterolf said. “We are both Catholic institutions, so we have common bonds and common values. This program will continue that partnership, and should draw many professional, career adult students to Newman.”

O’Mara agrees.

“I’ve seen a lot of employee interest,” she said. “People in my department maybe hadn’t considered getting a BSN before, but now they can see it’s very possible.”