More nurses enrolling in Southeastern online degree program
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Nearly 50 students are enrolled in Southeastern Louisiana University’s new online degree program designed to help registered nurses who have completed associate degree or diploma programs earn their Bachelor of Science degree.
Most have not set foot on campus this semester, taking anywhere from one to four accelerated courses at Southeastern that are offered totally online. Some are taking upper level nursing courses, while a number are enrolled in general education courses – such as biology, chemistry, arts and social studies – that are needed to complete requirements for a four-year degree.
The program is part of special statewide adult learning initiative known as CALL – the “Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana.” Sponsored by the Louisiana Board of Regents, the project targets individuals who have some college credit but have never earned a baccalaureate degree. Last semester -- the first time the program was offered, -- seven students already enrolled at the university were able to transition into the new program and graduate.
“CALL has enabled us to expand the offerings and geographical reach of our strong nursing program, already one of the largest and most respected in the state,” said John L. Crain, interim president. “It’s an important workforce development initiative, helping to address the pressing need for highly skilled nurses in our region.”
In Louisiana, more than 21,000 licensed registered nurses lack a bachelor’s degree. They are graduates of two-year associate degree programs or hospital-based diploma programs.
“The online RN to BS degree programs are becoming increasingly popular,” said Donnie Booth, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “More people are turning to Web-based programs to continue their formal education as well as fulfilling continuing education requirements.”
The participants in Southeastern’s program mostly come from nearby north shore and river parishes communities with some students from north Louisiana and Mississippi.
“Most of these men and women are working on a full or part-time basis, and it’s difficult for them to return to college to earn their four-year degree,” Booth said. “This program allows them to do the work on their own time and at their own pace, while being assured that they are part of a rigorous and fully-accredited program.”
The Southeastern nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and its new online program has been fully evaluated by the Southern Regional Education Board. The program has been cited by the Louisiana Nurses Foundation as the best in the state three times in the last seven years.
Booth serves on the Louisiana Health Works Commission , a state body created by to address issues and find solutions related to the shortage of healthcare professionals in the state. She said a bachelor’s degree is an important step for nursing or other healthcare professionals looking to advance in their particular fields.
Jean Urick, Southeastern’s CALL coordinator, said that all applicants for the program are individually assessed to determine which courses they need to take in order to earn a bachelors degree.
“The online courses are offered in accelerated four and eight-week formats,” Urick explained. “This allows the nursing students to complete a number of courses within a traditional semester’s timeframe, accelerating their progress toward the degree.”
The statewide CALL program is a consortium of six Louisiana public colleges and universities. In addition to Southeastern, the following institutions also offer online degree programs: Bossier Parish Community College, Northwestern State University, LSU at Eunice, McNeese State University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Degrees are offered in the fields of business administration, computer information systems, criminal justice, general studies and health studies. Information on those programs is available at www.yourcallla.org/.