Published: Wed Mar 29, 2006A program at Tennessee Tech University that helps two-year associate’s degreed registered nurses earn their bachelor’s degrees got a shot in the arm recently by going online.
“Our RN/BSN program has existed for quite some time, but offering it online has really given it a new life. It was virtually inactive before we made this switch,” said Shelia Green, interim dean of nursing at TTU.
By making the new online format available, administrators hoped to attract an initial enrollment of 12 students to the revamped program.
They’ve exceeded their goal by nearly triple. “The program’s upper division nursing courses will begin in the fall, and we currently have 33 RN/BSN students under advisement,” Green said.
Nearly two-thirds of the total are nurses currently working at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
One reason for the program’s popularity, said its coordinator Darlene Franklin, is that it offers convenience to nurses who are already working but still want to enhance their level of education.
“A major perceived obstacle that prevents more associate’s degreed registered nurses from pursuing bachelor’s degrees is the competition between traditional classroom time and their work shifts,” Franklin said.
The online program, however, applies technology to help eliminate that obstacle.
“For example, the program isn’t limited by class times or facilities needs,” Franklin said. “Students can do their class work at times convenient to them, from the comfort of their own homes.”
Testing and assignment submission will be done online, and e-mail and discussion boards will provide outlets for course communication among students and faculty. The online curriculum will present multiple methods of learning, including lectures, case studies and games.
“We’re pleased to offer this program because a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing often leads to greater opportunities for advancement or increased leadership possibilities,” Green said.
It’s also a necessary prerequisite before students can enroll in a master’s level nursing program, such as that offered by the Regents Online Degree Program.
In fact, the RODP master’s program was used as a model to help TTU develop the curriculum for its online RN/BSN program.
“We’ve tried to remove as many of the perceived obstacles from the program as we could identify,” Franklin said. “Student transcripts are individually evaluated, and the program supports lifelong learning, with proper procedures to validate, document and provide credit for workplace experience.”
Although Franklin is the program’s sole coordinator, its format will be offered in a team-taught curriculum, Green said.
For more information about TTU’s online RN/BSN, call the School of Nursing at 931/372-3229 or visit its web site at www.tntech.edu/nursing.