Learning through Collaboration, Sharing, and Faculty Support – Linfield’s RN to BSN Students

By Melissa Jones, PhD, RN, CHPN, COI
Associate Professor of Nursing
Coordinator of Online Programs in Nursing

The Linfield RN to BSN degree is an online program that is designed for nurses who want advance their career through higher education and obtain a baccalaureate degree, but are also juggling work, family and personal responsibilities. To ensure that students can be successful and maximize their learning through collaboration and sharing, faculty have designed a curriculum that is flexible, asynchronous, and requires that students work closely with groups of their nursing colleagues to develop and expand their professional practice.

In the online classroom, students and faculty discuss current healthcare issues and the most recent scientific literature to strategize solutions that will improve the health of individuals, communities, and populations. They discuss components of healthy work environments, develop their skills in professional communication, and make recommendations for ways that nurses can influence quality patient care outcomes, staff satisfaction, and the function of health care systems. Based on a strong commitment to a community-based curriculum and an education that is grounded in the liberal arts, the RN to BSN program is designed to develop the nurse’s skills in advocacy, critical thinking, leadership, and reflective practice. Curricular concepts include community health promotion, culture and diversity, evidence-based practice, and global health disparities.

One of the key features of the Linfield RN to BSN program and an important component of student success includes faculty support. The RN to BSN faculty are passionate about teaching nurses who are already licensed, practicing, and wish to transition to the next level in their career.

Dr. Henny Breen has identified the following key areas of support:

“I teach practicing nurses who have completed their diploma or associate degree in nursing. I have had nurses in their early twenties who have recently completed their associate degree to nurses in their early sixties who completed their initial nursing education up to forty years ago. They each have varied years of experience in nursing and have been in very diverse roles throughout their nursing career. This makes for a rich online learning community.

It is my desire to support nurses in advancing their learning in order to prepare them for the complexity of today’s health care environment. It is important to build on the experience and knowledge they have coming into the program while keeping in mind they have multiple responsibilities as adult learners. This could be the new graduate starting his or her first nursing job, which is a very stressful time, to a student who has full time work commitments and a family. Conflicting demands on time are understood and I make every effort to work with students to help them be successful in meeting their goal of earning a BSN.

Different students have different needs to be successful -for example, some need more help with navigating the online learning environment, others need help with time management, and others need more help in developing writing or critical thinking skills.  Regardless, it is my goal to build on where they are when they enter the program in the subject areas I teach using the different experiences of the students to help build a rich virtual learning community.”

Faculty members work closely with students and their academic advisor to support their success throughout the program. They also look forward to celebrating their successes along the way and encouraging students to even look beyond the BSN. Many of our graduates are attending prestigious graduate programs throughout the country. It is our goal to support the current and future goals of our students through close mentoring and supportive advising relationships.