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September 2002

Release Date: September 10, 2002

ASU's Online RN-BSN Program to be Highlighted at National Nursing Education Summit

Angelo State University's online nursing education program will be highlighted in a workshop to be presented by two ASU nursing faculty members during the National League of Nursing's 2002 Education Summit in Anaheim Sept. 19-22.

Dr. Patricia L. "Trish" Hutchinson, associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Leslie M. Mayrand, nursing professor and graduate adviser, have been invited to make the presentation which they have titled "Going Completely Online: The Good, the Bad and Keeping It from Getting Ugly."

They were invited to make the presentation after a panel of nursing peers reviewed their proposal and found it to be of potential interest to the nursing profession nationally. More than 2,800 nursing professionals from throughout the nation are expected to participate in the education summit, one of the premiere national conferences for nursing educators.

ASU's Department of Nursing initiated its online registered nurse-bachelor of science in nursing (RN-BSN) program in 1997 and had it completely online in 2000. No other nursing program in Texas and only a handful nationally provide all the online resources and classes necessary for registered nurses to complete their BSN online. The online program has had 78 graduates to date.

While most nursing schools nationally have recorded a dramatic drop in RN-BSN students over the last three years, ASU's online enrollment has almost doubled during that same period.

Mayrand, who headed the ASU Nursing Department when the online program was first offered, said "We decided to go to an online program because we serve so many students from rural areas and they simply can't commute to a traditional program. Also, more than 95 percent of RN students are employed full-time and, with family responsibilities as well, it would be impossible for them to attend a traditional program."

She said the ASU program has been a success in large part because of the technical expertise of Hutchinson, the support of the nursing faculty and the backing of the university's Information Technology staff.

Hutchinson said, "I would now consider our RN-BSN faculty to be experts in the field, using many innovative online techniques to ensure a program of the highest quality. At first we were concerned about losing that face-to-face contact with students but we have been able to add features to our courses that help lessen that concern."

Hutchinson joined the ASU faculty in 1995 and holds degrees in exercise physiology and biostatistics. She also has significant experience in informational technology and e-learning. She holds a joint appointment in both nursing and physical therapy and serves both departments as Director of Health Sciences Evaluation and Research.

Mayrand has been in nursing education for 17 years and is the graduate director for the department's master of science in nursing program, which is beginning to offer several graduate courses on line.

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