RN to BSN: A one-price online program for returning nurses

Taylor McDaniel, Staff Reporter

While Oakland University has a high status when it comes to anything health related — according to Director of Admissions Shane Lewis — its numbers reflect its esteemed reputation as well. 

Health professions and related fields dominated the major category for graduating students from OU in the 2017-2018 school year. The nursing major was the second most popular major choice for incoming freshmen for the fall of 2019. What is most impressive, though, is the trend of the Registered Nursing to Bachelor of Nursing (RN to BSN) completion program for transfer students at OU — the second choice for transfers. 

The program is entirely online, can be completed within either 12 or 20 months and is one flat program price — growing the program roughly 160% since last fall when the price was implemented. 

The all-inclusive price — or $9,995 for 32 credits with no fees — is the first of its kind at OU for an undergraduate program, Lewis said. 

“The way we envisioned it is we wanted to be the best in terms of cost versus competition,” Jason Pennington, director of advising for the School of Nursing, said. “The only way to do that was to have a flat rate.” 

The decision came a few years ago when the department looked into how it could reinvigorate the completion program. Besides the price, the other factor looked into was time. 

“In the last couple of years, we really looked at our RN to BSN program because enrollment was dropping,” Dean of Nursing Judy Didion said. “Nationally, what was going on is RNs were already working [in the field] with families of their own and needed more flexibility.” 

The RN to BSN completion program can be completed in just a year — or 20 months if the student cannot go back to school full-time.

As said by Pennington, when the professional standard changed about 10 years ago, hospitals started shifting to requiring their nursing staff to have BSNs or be BSN prepared.

This is due to how healthcare has become more complex, and employers are now starting to notice it, according to Didion. 

“It’s not just the skills nurses have, it’s the coordination of care — really the glue behind all of the other medical professionals,” Didion said. 

However, the program being online doesn’t mean the standard has dropped. 

Didion said she and her department work diligently with their full-time faculty to integrate quality into the online courses — including the faculty attending E-learning certification programs and dividing the students into smaller class sizes, making for a more personal touch. Didion hopes to give the program the community energy she feels when she’s on OU’s campus. 

“When we started to revise our program, we didn’t want it to be a stamped degree,” Didion said.  “We wanted to have quality. We want our students to graduate transformed, thinking differently about the profession of nursing, about care and about their opportunities.” 

Pennington said the School of Nursing truly understands and is in touch with what the industry is actually like. Lewis believes this is due — in part — to expert faculty and OU’s collaboration with Beaumont via the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. 

No matter the reason, it’s clearly paying off, according to Didion.

“We’re happy because we’ve been able to meet the needs of those individuals out there who really want to continue their education,” she said.