Registered nurses looking to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing now have that option at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater thanks to a new online program that began this semester.

To celebrate the announcement, the College of Education, Health and Aviation hosted a Launch Party Thursday evening at Willard Hall on the OSU campus.

Mary Malaska, director of the RN to BSN program, said eight students from throughout Oklahoma make up the first group of students and that 20 more are planning to come onboard in January.

“The RN to BSN was a long time in coming and we are so excited it is finally, finally here,” Malaska said. “It will provide so many nurses out there the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree in as quick as a year.”

Brooke Brantley, a registered nurse at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, attended the event with a few of her colleagues.

“We have lots of nurses that are interested in getting a BSN,” Brantley said. “OSU has a great reputation and that will help too.”

The program, which is aimed at enriching and expanding opportunities for nurses, also makes them more competitive and qualified for jobs at places including K-12 schools, Veteran’s hospitals and magnet hospitals.

Tayler Lee, who became a registered nurse in July and now works at Grady Memorial Hospital in Chickasha, said she is excited to start the program in January.

“I always said I wanted to graduate from OSU and now I will,” Lee said. “My husband graduated from OSU and we are huge fans.”

That’s music to the ears of OSU President Burns Hargis, who said he fully understands the importance of OSU-Stillwater having a BSN program.

There is no way we can produce enough nurses residentially to meet the needs we have in Oklahoma and there is no way RN’s can quit working and become residential students so this (online degree) is a perfect solution to enable RN’s to get their BSN’s,” Hargis said. “Our job as a Land Grant institution is to train great talent, do great research and share both with the state, our nation and the world. That is exactly what we are doing here.”

The program is working toward accreditation and hopes to hear back soon.

Alana Cluck, the only other professor currently teaching nursing courses alongside Malaska, said she is excited to help nurses and to see the program grow.

“We are committed to student success and want to help them juggle family, work and school responsibly,”

Heather Stranger, a former long-time nursing professor at OSU-OKC who wrote the proposal for the RN to BSN program two years ago and wrote the nuts and bolts for the curriculum, was all smiles while being recognized for her efforts by John Romans, dean of College of Education, Health and Aviation.

“Our vision is to be a leader in all things healthcare related,” Romans said. “I firmly believe that the key to success in addressing the tremendous challenges that we face in healthcare, lies in interdisciplinary efforts to work together.”

Twitter: @dbittonNP