MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

July 12, 2014 

Learn more about RN to BSN nursing program at July 16 gathering


Last summer, the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) granted Mayville State University approval to proceed with an RN to BSN nursing program. Through the new online program, Mayville State will educate nurses at the baccalaureate-degree level in order to equip them to better serve the health care needs of the citizens of North Dakota. Much has happened since this approval, and I invite you to join us at Mayville State’s Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center on Wednesday, July 16 at 10:00 a.m. Enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation focused on MSU’s RN to BSN nursing program.

We have just received final approval of the program from the Higher Learning Commission. Classes in Mayville State’s RN to BSN nursing program will begin this fall. As many as 24 students may be accepted, and 14 students have been accepted into the nursing program at this time. 

Tami Such has been hired as the RN to BSN nursing program director, and Kari Mathys is a faculty member. Shannon Skovlund is serving as administrative coordinator, along with her duties as administrative coordinator for the Division of Science and Mathematics.

The progress made in establishing this new nursing program at Mayville State is due greatly in part to the support received from numerous Mayville State alumni and friends who supported the program with their gifts on Giving Hearts Day, an online give-a-thon for non-profit organizations in western Minnesota and North Dakota. The event is hosted every year by the Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) and Impact Foundation to help participating charities dramatically increase fundraising success by creating awareness and a 24-hour window of participation that spurs donors to action. More than $40,000 was received for the Mayville State RN to BSN nursing program as a result of these efforts last February! This funding has been crucial to the launching of the program.

While it is open to all, the RN to BSN nursing program at Mayville State is geared to meet the needs of the working RN who is in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree. The two-path system and courses offered online create flexibility for adult learners. Students will be able to take three nursing courses per semester, each in a five-week block.

Mayville State University already works closely with Lake Region State College and the Dakota Nursing Program (DNP) in the education of nurses by providing pre-requisite courses for their practical and associate degree nursing programs. Offering a bachelor’s degree program is a logical next step for Mayville State. University officials are working in concert with Lake Region, the DNP, and others offering nursing programs to provide the best possible program at Mayville.

A national report states that approximately 20% of the currently working nurses will retire prior to 2020. A report from Sanford Health in 2012 stated that 50% of the current nursing workforce will retire by 2020. The average age of RNs was projected to be 44.5 years in 2012. The future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically as the baby boomers reach their 60s and older.

The need for nurses is especially great in rural areas. More than 80% of North Dakota’s 53 counties are designated as partial or whole county health professional shortage areas. The registered nurse shortage is most severe in rural settings, but it is also being experienced in larger North Dakota cities.

A solution to the shortage of nurses is to educate more of them in the state and provide them with the working conditions that would make employment in the state an attractive option. Nurses who are trained in a rural environment tend to stay in the rural communities, and we at Mayville State are happy that we can help address this need in the state of North Dakota.

Baccalaureate-prepared nurses can help address the nurse training concerns. With bachelor’s degrees, nurses can be involved in the education of future nurses as clinical instructors or preceptors. In that way, they can directly contribute to an increase in the number of nurses educated in the state. In practice settings, they can provide the leadership needed to create positive work environments.

Please mark your calendar and plan to be at the Larson Center Wednesday, July 16 at 10:00 a.m. You’ll have an opportunity to meet RN to BSN nursing program director Tami Such and hear the latest information on the program. This will be a great time for you to learn more about how Mayville State is helping to deal with a serious issue that is affecting our region and state.