Karen McCabe is pursing her accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing.

by Van Mitchell – staff writer

Karen McCabe graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a degree in biology and chemistry in 1996, with plans to go to medical school.
Those plans changed after feeling burnt out from school, and wanting a break.
“My original goal was to go to med school back then. That’s what my degree was scheduled for and that’s the track that I was on,” she said. “I decided I needed to rest a little bit and never went back. I went to work for Tyson Foods, and later worked for American Freightways. I got married and had kids and was a stay-at-home mom for 14 years after that.”
McCabe and her husband Shane, a State Farm reinspector, moved to Cashion in 2007. She later was recruited as a teacher for Cashion Public Schools.
“They could not find anybody to come out and teach any of the physical sciences in a rural school at that time,” she said. “The superintendent found out what my degree was and asked if I would come and teach physics and chemistry and physical science, and I ended up teaching a little bit of psychology too. I did that from 2015 all the way to 2023.”
McCabe said it was former students who inspired her to reignite her medical journey. She is a student with Oklahoma City University’s 12-month accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.
“I was always encouraging them to go into the medical field and if they really enjoyed science, go all the way with it and finish big. I tried to inspire them in that way,” she said. “In the end, my students ended up inspiring me to go back and do something that I should have done a long time ago.”
McCabe said her goal is to become a nurse anesthetist.
“My ultimate goal now that I’m in my later years, I’m 49, is not to be a family physician. I also don’t think spending 15 years or so to specialize as a dermatologist or gastroenterologist will work best for me, either,” she said. “I still want to get a doctorate of some sort, so I think I want to go the nurse anesthetist route. To do that, you have to be a nurse with a bachelor’s degree, and this works really perfectly.”
OCU’s accelerated BSN program is the state of Oklahoma’s first and only 12-month accelerated BSN. The program provides an opportunity for individuals with a non-nursing associate or bachelor’s degree to earn a BSN degree in less time than a traditional baccalaureate program. This is an in-person program that consists of 56 credit hours spread over three full-time semesters during the 12-month program.
Some key features of Oklahoma City University’s 12-month accelerated BSN are:
• Program consists of 56 credit hours over 12 months
• Direct transfer of previous associate or baccalaureate degree credits
• Clinical experiences at major hospital and community sites in the Oklahoma City metro area
The program will prepare you to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN), which all prospective nurses must pass in order to be licensed in their state.
Due to the intensity of the accelerated BSN, it is strongly recommended that students do not seek employment for the duration of enrollment in the program.
“There’s no way I could work and do this at the same time. I am either in class, reading my material, studying, eating, or sleeping. It’s been all-consuming,” McCabe said. “You have to make a 75 to pass in your courses. For some people, 75 is fine. I’m not one of those people. I put a lot of effort into making sure I know the material. It’s much more rigorous than a standard four-year program.”
McCabe said it has been an interesting experience being one of the older students in class.
“It’s been very eye-opening on what the student experiences nowadays versus when I went to school back in the 1990s. That’s been quite an adjustment for me,” she said.
McCabe credits OCU’s Kramer School of Nursing for creating a trailblazing program.
“I feel like we are all trailblazers,” she said. “OCU really thought outside the box and implemented an incredibly marketable fast-track program, and we, as students, are going to be the first 12-month BSN graduates in the history of the state of Oklahoma. It’s a pretty incredible feat for us and the university.
For more information about OCU’s Kramer School of Nursing visit https://www.okcu.edu/nursing.