Nurses going online to gain degrees
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – After meeting with a Southeastern Louisiana University academic advisor, William Demelo learned he could earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing completely online while maintaining his full-time job at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
To his surprise, Demelo discovered a new program at Southeastern that allows registered nurses who hold diploma or associate degrees the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science degree completely online.
A 17-year employee at Ochsner and a resident of Watson, La., Demelo enrolled in Southeastern’s online degree program because of the flexibility and convenience. The program is part of a statewide special adult learning initiative known as CALL – “Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana.” The program is sponsored by the Louisiana Board of Regents and targets adults who have some college credit but are without a baccalaureate degree.
CALL currently has 38 enrollees who are taking nursing and other courses online at Southeastern. Several are expected to get their degrees at the university’s fall commencement in December, and more than 20 new students are expected to enroll next semester.
“Our online RN to BS degree program is one more example of how Southeastern is working to address critical workforce needs in the region,” said President John L. Crain.
Another Livingston Parish resident, full-time nurse, mother and wife Tara Jerez of Walker, who will graduate from the program in December, said earning her degree has prepared her for career advancement within her field.
A graduate of Darton College in Albany, Ga. with an associate degree in nursing, Jerez said she entered the program for the independence it offered and the opportunity to reach her personal goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Jerez has worked at the Ochsner Foundation in New Orleans for 11 years.
“Louisiana has a considerable number of licensed, registered nurses who are graduates of diploma schools or two-year associate degree programs,” explained Jean Urick, who coordinates the Southeastern program. “Most are working full time, and it’s difficult for them to return to college to earn the bachelor’s degree, which is an important step in career advancement.”
Urick explained that applicants to the program are individually assessed to determine which courses they need to earn the bachelor’s degree. Registered nurses can receive up to 30 nursing credit hours, and transfer credits may be awarded for any equivalent general education courses.
The online courses are offered in accelerated eight or 15-week formats, allowing the nursing students to complete a number of courses in a typical semester.
“The courses are rigorous and require considerable attention and work,” she said. “Learning online is a different experience than a traditional classroom environment; but it requires the same discipline, dedication and time management skills needed in a classroom course.”
A graduate of Delgado and the Charity School of Nursing, Demelo said he plans on taking a full load on online courses while working full-time to finish by the end of next fall and fast forward his career progression.
“Without this program, I would not be able to earn my bachelor’s degree,” Demelo said. “The faculty has been outstanding and my professors have been very friendly and informative.”
Additional information on the CALL nursing program can be obtained by contacting the Southeastern School of Nursing at 985-549-5288 or by going online at www.selu.edu/CALL.