Fargo, North Dakota -- While balancing a full-time nursing position, it can be challenging to continue your education. Heidi Houska, R.N., found a way to do it. “Earning my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree has been a lifelong personal goal of mine. I was eager to advance my knowledge in nursing and strengthen my leadership skills to better serve those in need of nursing care,” said Houska.
After she received her associate degree in nursing, Houska put her skills into practice. She has been working as a nurse for four years, most recently at a regional health care system in Fargo.
A flexible educational program helped her transform her practice. She pursued her part-time, online RN to BSN program through North Dakota State University.
“I think continuing nursing education is important because it provides broader career opportunities and increased knowledge,” said Houska. “Nurses need to be a reliable source of information in order to provide optimal patient care.”
Houska found NDSU’s online program to be a good fit to advance her education and her career. “The most helpful part of the RN to BSN program is the understanding and flexibility the instructors possess. They know nurses have busy schedules and are motivated to provide the students with the best experience possible.
“I chose this program because of the ability to complete school without interrupting my work schedule,” said Houska.
The five-semester online program through NDSU allows nurses with associate degrees the flexibility to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in a manner that fits their schedules.
Courses are designed to build on the knowledge that registered nurses learned in their associate degree program, as well as through their on-the-job experience. The program grants 15 competency credits at no cost to nurses who meet program criteria and after completing their first semester in the program.
Those who are enrolled pursue the program online to fit their schedules. There also are day-and-a-half on-campus immersions each fall and spring semester at NDSU to meet students and instructors and build leadership skills. Clinical experiences can be completed in a student's home community. Courses are offered in eight-week blocks—generally two consecutive courses each semester.
“The most beneficial part of this program is the experience and knowledge gained during the program. I have had the opportunity to learn from my instructors and classmates. I see myself seeking opportunities to improve the practice of nursing and to be a leader,” said Houska.
Based on her experience, Houska found the NDSU online blended RN to BSN program to be tailored to the needs of professionals working full time, who want to transform their practice and advance their career.
“You will not regret it. It is easier than you think,” said Houska. “It will be over before you know it.”
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends a goal of increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020.