OHSU's School of Nursing Takes RN/BS Completion Program Online

01/18/00   Klamath Falls, Ore.

Oregon Health Sciences University's School of Nursing will offer its entire baccalaureate completion program for registered nurses online as of spring 2000 thanks to a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The new program is called R.N./B.S.-Online and will not replace the school's ongoing courses for R.N.s, but rather represents a computer-mediated, fully distance-delivered approach for rural R.N.s. The School of Nursing is actively recruiting 10 students for the pilot offering of the program to begin this March with the start-up of the first two electronically delivered courses.

Students admitted into the R.N./B.S.-Online program will be provided with computers for home use while they are in the program. Instruction and ongoing support also will be provided, so the students can use their computers to communicate with their instructors and each other, order their textbooks, connect with library and Web resources, and turn in assignments -- all the things that a traditional student would do in person on campus.

The School of Nursing received the top score in the nation for its proposed program and, alongside California State University Chico, University of Arkansas, University of Nebraska, University of South Alabama and University of Wisconsin Madison, has been funded to develop a model computer-mediated bachelor's program for rural R.N.s.

"The grantors at HRSA particularly liked our concept of student-based education as opposed to the traditional site-based approach," said Laura Dzurec, Ph.D., associate dean at the Klamath Falls campus of the School of Nursing and R.N./B.S.-Online project director. "We were in a good position to develop this proposal because we've been working toward it for the last six years in our R.N. distance learning courses. We had a strong history of R.N./B.S. education to build on, and it's a thrill to have the resources now to move ahead quickly to realize our vision."

To qualify for the program, students must hold a registered nurse's license in Oregon and live at least 75 miles from any of the OHSU School of Nursing campuses (Ashland, Klamath Falls, La Grande or Portland). R.N.s interested in applying for the R.N./B.S.-Online program can contact the School of Nursing at (503) 494-7725 or e-mail proginfo@ohsu.edu.

"As chairwoman of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Task Force on Distance Education, I am proud that OHSU's School of Nursing is embarking

on this program," said Kathleen Potempa, D.N.Sc., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of OHSU's School of Nursing. "Technological advances have developed to a point where we now can offer high quality educational experiences to students for whom these would otherwise be unavailable. OHSU's School of Nursing has a long tradition of serving the rural communities, and this program will give us even greater capacity to do so."

Like their on-campus counterparts, R.N.s in the R.N./B.S.-Online program will have to complete all the nursing and general education courses OHSU requires for a bachelor's degree in nursing. Program advisers will assist students in identifying required non-nursing courses, such as writing and statistics, that they can take through local community colleges or by distance from any accredited school. Students will be expected to complete OHSU's 11 required nursing courses, two a term, over a period of five terms, and finish up in summer 2001 with their final clinical practice course.

Experience counts in the OHSU program, therefore students can challenge courses for which they have met the learning goals through prior work and life experience. In addition, R.N.s in the program can tailor their courses to focus on one particular aspect of nursing in which they may be especially interested.

For the two clinical courses required in the program, faculty will work with students and health care agencies in their local communities to locate preceptors with whom the students can work. "We want rural R.N.s to be able to stay in the communities where they are currently working and where their service is greatly needed -- that's why we want to do a fully distance-delivered program. Our hope is that three years from now, the R.N./B.S.-Online program will allow us to reach a lot more rural R.N.s.," said Dzurec.

For more information on the R.N./B.S.-Online program, contact Lorraine Cook, R.N./B.S.-Online project manager, at (541) 552-6736, e-mail nursing@sou.edu or visit http://www.sou.edu/nursing/rnbsonline.