When Hannah Rames, RN, decided to go back to school for her BSN she knew it would require some sacrifices.
But going back to school through the Fran and Earl Ziegler University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Nursing’s RN to BSN track, she had no idea how flexible it was going to be.
“I think we really just work to try to meet the students where they are,” said Dr. Lori McElroy, DNP, RN, CNE, and RN to BSN track coordinator. “We know these are working students, often a little older than the traditional student who sometimes have families, children, elderly parents – just all kinds of life circumstances they are working through. “We realize that in the beginning and I think our focus is to be as student-centric and self-directed as possible.”
Rames earned her associate’s degree from Oklahoma City Community College in the winter of 2015. She began working as a labor and delivery nurse at OU Health Children’s Hospital in March of the following year.
She spent three years there before moving to the Prenatal Diagnostic Center for another three years. “I grew up in Norman and started my college career at OU and really wanted to finish with my BSN from OU,” said Rames, who now works in the nursery at Lakeside. “I chose this program because there was a part-time track and it was all online, which made it much easier to continue working full-time while also taking care of my son.” Tuition assistance while working for OU was also a big draw that helped her complete her next degree.
One-hundred percent online course offerings helped Rames fit everything into her schedule. And another big draw was the ability to complete practicum hours at her own job site.
“It helps them feel very comfortable in an atmosphere they know and they can find someone in their leadership like their charge nurse or someone in administration to actually supervise their clinical experience,” McElroy said.
The program can be completed within a year, or longer if a student needs more time. “We don’t require any brick and mortar, face-to-face type of interactions but we really try to communicate frequently with these students and offer encouragement and support along the way because we do realize this second degree is sometimes difficult and challenging even though it is a flexible pace. More and more, McElroy said she’s finding nurses coming back to advance their degree as a way of opening up more opportunities both at the bedside and away from it.
“This is just a stepping stone that often these students once they get back into the academic setting they do take their BSN further and get an advanced degree, either a nurse practitioner or even their Ph.D.,” McElroy said.
OU’s nursing programs have earned high honors in nationwide rankings. In its 2022 rankings, U.S. News & World Report placed OU No. 29 in its list of best online master’s in nursing programs, and No. 58 for best bachelor of science in nursing programs.
OU’s RN to BSN online program is ranked No. 2 in the nation by https://nurse.org/.
A nurse for more than 30 years, McElroy said each time she advanced her degree it opened up more possibilities she never thought possible.
“I don’t feel like I realized the opportunity at the time and I think the students now have a much more realistic perspective of healthcare, of technology, of informatics and I think nursing programs have had to shift to keep up with the healthcare community,” she said. “The opportunities are just endless now.” Rames has realized it too as she moves closer to her BSN. “I have appreciated that all of my professors have been very flexible and made themselves accessible throughout the semester,” she said. “After I finish this program I’m going to continue my career as a bedside nurse and focus on my family. When my child is older I might consider getting my Master’s or Doctorate.”
For more information on the Fran and Earl Ziegler University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Nursing’s RN to BSN program visit: https://nursing.ouhsc.edu/