Online RN-to-BS in Nursing Program has Successful First Semester
This September, St. John Fisher College introduced the Online RN-to-BS in Nursing Program, the first fully online academic program for the College. And with one semester under the laptop, the College is busy getting ready for its next cohort of students starting in January 2013.
The program was designed for registered nurses (RNs) who graduated from an accredited school of nursing with an associate’s degree, or RNs who graduated from an accredited hospital-based diploma program and have active RN licensure, and who wish to pursue their baccalaureate degree.
According to Pam White, Program Director, 18 students are currently finishing up the first semester in the program. While most of the students come from the Rochester area, Western New York, and the Southern Tier, the program also attracted students from New Jersey and Connecticut.
Current Fisher faculty who are teaching in the program along with White include: Sean Pearson, Visiting Instructor of Economics, who is teaching Statistics; Dr. Tim Madigan, Associate Professor of Philosophy, who is teaching Bioethics; and Dr. John Kirchgessner, Assistant Professor of Nursing, who is teaching Health Assessment. White said the program has experienced only some minor technical glitches, but the supportive OIT staff and understanding group of students have all learned together.
“This is a great group of students ? very engaged and hardworking. I've been especially impressed with how well they interact with each other in the discussion boards and how supportive and respectful they are of other students’ ideas and points of view,” she said.
White said the group is very diverse ? some of the nurses in the program have almost 30 years of experience, while others have less than a year. In addition, they practice in a variety of different clinical settings. From the outside looking in, White said the students seem to find the courses challenging and thought-provoking, and have been able to apply the new concepts from the classes to their jobs, ultimately helping them look at their careers in a new light.
“As an instructor, you always learn from your students, but having such a diverse group really gives me the opportunity to learn. Because the students are so committed to doing excellent work, I'm challenged to reciprocate by making sure we continually work to improve the program and support student learning so we have the best RN-to-BS program in the region,” said White. “Our goal is to have a stimulating, rigorous program that will serve these students well as they progress in their careers and yet maintain the flexibility working professionals need to succeed. An online program can truly offer both.”
Greta Ledgerwood, a current online student and nurse at FF Thompson Hospital, said she chose Fisher’s new program because of its convenience. A resident of Penn Yan, she also has four children whose ages range from 9-15. Between the distance, her children’s busy schedules, and her job, the program’s flexibility was an ideal way for her to pursue her degree.
She said the program has been a lot of work and has required her to be both organized and motivated, but it has met her expectations.
“The work is challenging but engaging. The instructors have all worked to meet with us for virtual office hours so we can ask questions and clarify uncertainties, and they are always available by email or phone as well,” she said. “This program will allow me to have more opportunities in nursing, and is a stepping stone to an advanced practice nursing degree program.”