by Van Mitchell, OKNT writer
Students interested in earning a nursing degree from the University of Central Oklahoma now have multiple options for their education.
One of those options is students obtaining their B.S. degree through UCO’s Online R.N. to B.S. track.
The RN to BS in nursing track at the University of Central Oklahoma is available online for registered nurses who are interested in furthering their nursing education. Upon successful completion, nurses will have earned a Bachelor of Science degree.
The R.N. to B.S. track at UCO is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
“We have had an RN to BS program since the 1980s, but in 2019, we tilted and fully online, because that is what students wanted,” said Nancy Gwin, DNP, MSN, RN, Assistant Professor, RN to BS Coordinator at UCO. “They are working adults, and they want the flexibility and the access. Our enrollment went down during (COVID), but we are now seeing numbers back up to where they were when we started (online). I expect it to continue to grow. The program is very popular.” (story continues below)
Gwin said students enroll in the RN to BS program for a variety of reasons.
“The number one reason is that they want to go on to graduate school, and be a Nurse Practitioner, a Nurse Midwife, or a Nurse Anesthetist,” she said. “We are seeing a real trend of nurses wanting to go back to school for those.”
Lora French, director for Advanced Cardiac Care at INTEGRIS Health in Oklahoma City, is a graduate of the RN to BSN program.
“As a Registered Nurse going on 30 years with an Associate’s Degree,” she said. “My intent was always to complete the BSN process.”
French attended UCO completing an accounting degree, and MBA.
“My experience with UCO was remarkably positive such that rounding out a nursing career and finishing the BSN degree was the next obvious continuing education step,” she said.
French started her program in Fall of 2020 and completed it in May 2021.
“Successful completion of this program during a pandemic and employed full time is the direct result of Nancy Gwen’s invested leadership of a well-designed adult learning program,” she said. “There is clarity from beginning to end in expectations and consistency throughout the process. The coursework is seamless in its structure and supported with dedicated teams.”
Meredith Caballero lives in Byers, Texas. She graduated from UCO with a BS in Secondary Science Education, and a MS degree in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in 2000.
She taught eight years in Piedmont, and one year in Washington (Oklahoma), before returning to school and earning her ASN degree in nursing from Oklahoma City Community College.
Caballero decided to return to school for her BSN because she wanted to pursue an advanced degree in nursing and a BSN is required to apply.
“I looked at a number of programs but as a UCO grad I decided that I would return there (online) because I liked the setup of their program and the way they have made it consistent between every class,” she said.
Caballero said having been out of school for so many years she wasn’t sure how it would be going back fully online.
“I have really enjoyed the program and the professors clearly want their students to succeed,” she said. “I was even on the President’s Honor Roll last semester. If everything goes as planned, I have been accepted for consideration for graduation in December 2022.”
Caballero said she plans to apply to a number of different programs to pursue her Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree.
“Hopefully, I will be accepted to one of the BSN to DNP programs that are available and I can finally reach that goal that I missed out on when I didn’t get to finish my Ph.D.,” she said. My goal is to obtain my PMHNP and start a practice that helps people with their mental health using mindfulness-based practices along with traditional western medicine. I believe that we need to treat mental health as seriously as we do physical health and want to help reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.”
Gwin said the UCO program is designed in a way to help keep nurses motivated about their career.
“I want people to like learning again,” she said. “We try to be super supportive. Part of my motivation is to keep them in nursing. I fear for the profession. There is a lot of nursing burnout out there.”