Hilary Bagnell working nurse smiling for the camera while at work. | Taken by Hilary Bagnell in June 2020

HSU starts new program for active nurses

RN-BSN nursing program for incoming or working nurses to continue their education
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RN-BSN nursing program for incoming or working nurses to continue their education

Humboldt State University introduced a new nursing program this semester. The program started as a hybrid course for returning or new, incoming nurses wishing to continue their college education. Since it is an online format, nurses have a flexible timeframe between school and work.

Kimberly Perris, the director of the nursing program at HSU, played a significant role in getting the program started, along with Assistive Director Eden Donahue. The program is designed for those who have finished their nursing degree and have prior experience working as a nurse.

“All the students that come into the program have already been through a nursing program through a community college and have gotten their associate degree in nursing,” Perris said. “This program offers those nurses an opportunity to get their bachelor’s in nursing.”

The program is less about hands-on nursing and more focused on critical thinking and management as a working nurse.

“Our particular program is focused on our rural population, Indigenous populations,” Perris said. “So they are getting exposure to cultural humility and the social determinant of health and all the things that affect a person’s healthcare.”

Prior to the pandemic, the class was designed for working nurses and already planned to operate as a hybrid class with intensives on weekends.

Hilary Bagnell, a Registered Nurse for Saint Joseph Hospital, is ednrolled in the program. Bagnell decided to further pursue her education after graduating from the College of the Redwoods.

“I graduated CR a year ago,” Bagnell said. “I was in the mode to do academic work already and I find that it’s a good thing to keep the momentum going and to go for those goals rather than let them get pushed back.”

Bagnell works as a nurse and has a family, the issue is finding time to manage home life, work and the program.

“It’s been challenging, on top of working full-time it’s a lot to do, but the content is so applicable to what I am doing,” Bagnell said. “It applies directly to things I experience every day on my job.”

Katie Ohlsen, a nurse with Saint Joseph Hospital, is participating in HSU’s program. Ohlsen wants to further her education and credentials as a nurse. She found the program online and signed up in July, knowing the class could be altered due to the pandemic.

“COVID was one of the reasons I decided, the final push I needed to go back to school,” Ohlsen said. “I knew the program was going to be online because it is meant for working nurses.”

Ohlsen enjoyed classes and even though she’s experienced as a nurse, she finds the new and old critical thinking, and nurse management in class compelling.

“I’ve actually been a nurse for 22 years now,” Ohlsen said. “So it is interesting to be back in school for being out for that long.”

Nurses from different backgrounds, ages and hospitals are coming together to attend this new program to learn, boost their credentials and be around peers who experience similar stresses and understand their careers.

“In a way,” Bagnell said. “It’s kinda like therapy for all of us to come together and talk about these stressful experiences we have as nurses.”

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