ACCELERATED, ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREE TO BSN PROGRAM
The purpose of this program is to allow individuals with Bachelor’s degrees in other
fields to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program in 12 months
in an accelerated, nontraditional format online. The recent economic downturn, combined
with the ongoing nursing shortage, present a tremendous opportunity to attract
individuals to the professional nursing field, an area where employment opportunities
abound. O nline courses, a short residency requirement totaling three weeks, and clinical
courses completed in the students’ home cities allow for completion of the program in the
designated time frame.
The demand for nurses continues to rise as enrollment in nursing programs has steadily
decreased since 1995. Prediction estimates show that by the year 2020, there will be a
20% shortage in the number of nurses available in the United States. That translates into a
shortage of more that 400,000 RNs by that time (Buerhaus, as cited in American
Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2000). Efforts are underway nationally to
stimulate increased enrollment in baccalaureate Schools of Nursing (Health Resources
and Services Administration [HRSA], 2001).
No program like the one proposed currently exists in Wisconsin. Three proposers seeking
CAS funding along with one proposer who will act in-kind (without CAS funding) are
seeking to develop this program to support state and national efforts to boost enrollment
in undergraduate nursing programs and increase the number of nurses available to meet
current and future demands. The BSN degree would provide graduates with abundant
employment opportunities. The target date for initiation of this program is June 2003.
ACCELERATED, ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREE TO BSN PROGRAM
Currently, requirements for the nursing major can be completed in five semesters of full-
time study at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The purpose of this program is to
allow individuals with Bachelor’s degrees in other fields to complete a Bachelor of
Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program in 12 months in an accelerated, non-traditional
format. O nline courses, a short residency requirement totaling three weeks, and clinical
courses done in the students’ home cities allows for completion of the program in the
designated time frame.
Even before the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11 th 2001, there was
evidence that the economic climate in this country was heading toward recession. The
computer and automotive markets were some of the many major industries reporting
sluggish sales. Since the terrorist attacks, many other industries including the airlines,
tourism, and manufacturing trades have suffered losses and thousands of employees have
been laid off or their employment terminated. The jobless rate soared to 5.4% nationally
in October 2001, the highest rate in over 20 years in this country (Strope, 2001). In
Wisconsin, during the time period from July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001, 9299 of a
total of 132,240 (7%) Job Service registrants reported they had greater than 16 years of
education (personal communication, Scott McDonald, October 30, 2001). This indicates
that even those with college degrees are finding themselves displaced from their jobs or
Opportunities for Registered Nurses
Despite the uncertain economy, the health care industry remains strong and continues to
be a stable employer both statewide and nationally. The Wisconsin Department of
Workforce Development lists Health Services as the top industry for projected
employment for the year 2008. The Department of Workforce Development also lists
registered nurses in the top three occupations with the most annual job openings in the
state of Wisconsin for the projected time period 1998-2008 (Wisconsin Labor Market
Information, 1998a; 1998b). With the questionable short-term economic market, many
individuals may be seeking careers with more stable employment options. Nursing offers
a wide variety of opportunities that may be attractive to those seeking a new career
The nursing shortage has been well publicized with a current shortfall of 126,000 nurses
nationwide (American Hospital Association, as cited in AACN, 2000). Seventy-five
percent of all hospital job vacancies are for registered nurses. As of October 2001, there
were 80 vacant positions for Registered Nurses in just two hospitals in the Fox Valley
and their affiliated clinics (personal communication, Julie Blemberg, October 30, 2001).
A visit to the website of a large, regional health care organization in November 2001
showed there were over 425 job opportunities for registered nurses within the
organization in eastern Wisconsin (Aurora Health Care, n.d.). Enrollments in Schools of
Nursing in the United States have declined each year since 1995 (AACN, 2000).
Predictions indicate that by the year 2020, there will be a shortage of over 400,000 nurses
nationwide (Buerhaus, as cited in AACN, 2000).
The Adult Learner
The adult learner has been characterized as a person who is problem-centered rather than
subject-centered, is more self-directed and has life experiences from which new
knowledge can be related (Knowles, 1984). In order to facilitate adult learning, Knowles
(1984) suggested that respect, participation in decision- making, freedom of expression,
availability of information, and mutual responsibility are important characteristics of an
educational program. In addition to understanding and respecting the characteristics of
the adult learner, barriers to education need to be considered. The setting is a key to
explaining why adults often choose not to participate in formal education programs.
Scheduling, location, transportation, and lack of flexibility are all setting issues that can
inhibit participation (Merriam & Caffarella, 1991) in a formal learning program. An
online educational program can address all of these factors. The adult learner can be
involved in the learning process with the guidance from the educator. The interaction
that occurs during a web-based course facilitates freedom of expression and participation
in the learning process. Finally, not being tied to a specific classroom and time provides
the necessary flexibility to enable the learner to participate in a formal learning program.
Dr. Carol Kasworm, an expert in the field of adult education, accelerated degree
programs and distance education, has agreed to act as a consultant for this project.
Aspects Unique to this Program
Availability. Inquiries regarding nursing programs currently available in
Wisconsin reveal that one University offers an accelerated Bachelor’s degree to BSN
program. However, that program is offered in the traditional on-campus format over a 16-
month timeframe. Online RN to BSN completion programs are available through several
Universities including the Collaborative Nursing Program, of which the University of
Wisconsin Oshkosh is a part. However, those students are already registered nurses and
program completion does not contribute to decreasing the nursing shortage. Bachelor’s
degree to Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs are offered both in and out-of-
state. However, the greatest demand currently for nursing professionals are for entry-
level positions and not for nurses with advanced degrees. The online, accelerated BSN
program for individuals already possessing Bachelor’s degrees, as is being proposed here,
would be the only one of its kind in the state.
Accelerated Pace. Currently, the vast majority of undergraduate nursing students
at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh complete degree requirements for the nursing
major in five semesters of full-time study. This program would allow for completion of
those BSN degree requirements in 12 months of full-time study. This rigorous program
will have stringent admission requirements and students will have to have completed the
prerequisites at the time of admission to the program (see Appendix A).
While some adult learners may seek online programs of study because their work
schedule prohibits them from attending classes on site, enrollees for this program would
likely have to decrease working hours due to the demanding pace. However, the online
option allows them to complete courses in their own homes during times that fit with
other obligations. This flexibility is often appealing to those caring for children.
Because of the great demand for registered nurses, some agencies have been offering up
to $20,000 sign-on bonuses for those accepting positions. Because of the great demand,
options are currently being investigated to have agencies sponsor or financially support
students while in this program. Initial indications are favorable that such an option may
be possible in exchange for employment commitments after graduation.
Precepted Clinical Experiences. In this proposed program, students would have
their initial clinical experience on campus with faculty instructors during their first
residency requirement. This would acclimate students to the acute care setting and allow
them to practice basic nursing assessments and skills.
Subsequent clinical experiences would be completed in the students’ home cities (or
location of their choice) with a nursing preceptor (under the guidance of a faculty
instructor). Nursing preceptors would have a minimum of a BSN degree, three or more
years experience as a registered nurse, and a written recommendation from their
immediate supervisor. Precepted experiences allow students to learn in a one-on-one,
closely supervised situation, with a qualified mentor. This close relationship allows for
critical evaluation of students’ abilities and assures that graduates will be high-quality
nurses. Allowing students to complete clinical experiences in their home cities also
allows them to establish relationships with the potential employing agencies.
Preceptors would be selected by faculty and would be required to complete a web-based
training program (developed by the proposers) prior to the clinical experience. The
current program budget provides for a preceptor stipend of $500.00 per experience. This
provides incentive to qualified registered nurses. With the current nursing shortage and
the bonuses paid to new registered nurse employees, options will be explored to have the
agencies pay the preceptors’ stipend. A positive relationship with a preceptor and positive
clinical experience could result in the graduate seeking employment in that agency after
Curricular Innovation. The HRSA has put out a call for grant proposals
addressing: (a) increasing enrollment in baccalaureate programs of nursing and, (b)
curricular innovation. This program satisfies both criteria.
Accreditation. Nursing’s accrediting bodies do not accredit a program until after
the first class has graduated. All the proposers, and especially Proposer D who acts as a
site visitor for the AACN (one of the major accrediting organizations), are familiar with
the criteria necessary for successful accreditation and will assure that the program meets
standards. In addition, the Collaborative Nursing Program, which consists of the
Universities of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, and Green-Bay,
currently offers an online BSN degree program for Registered Nurses that is fully
The curriculum for the online program is a compressed version of the fully accredited
undergraduate program at UW Oshkosh. The proposers, as well as the Dean of the
College of Nursing, all agree that the program will likely receive full accreditation
without any obstacles.
Proposers’ Relevant Experience. All proposers have completed the Blackboard
training seminars. Proposers A, B, and D have developed and taught online nursing
courses. Proposer C will teach online this spring for the first time. Therefore, all are
experienced in web-based education.
Grant Writing. The proposers have written an HRSA grant seeking just under
$900,000 over a three-year period to support program development starting in Fall 2002
and the first two years of program offering. Submission date was 1-28-02. The grant was
similar to one funded for developing the Collaborative Nursing Program’s online RN to
BSN Completion option.
The program is being considered for funding under the DINS initiative. The program has
also been presented to top administrators for area health care agencies in an effort to seek
support or partnerships for potential students. Initial reaction has been very positive,
likely due to their struggle with the nursing shortage. Funding through private
foundations such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (from which funding was received to
initiate the Collaborative Nursing Program) will be sought.
Grants have been reviewed and supported by the Director o f Sponsored Programs, the
Dean of the College of Nursing, and the Vice Chancellor. Three proposers have attended
grant-writing seminars; one specifically addressed the HRSA grant application process. A
copy of the HRSA grant call, as well as evidence of proposers’ attendance at grant-
writing seminars is attached. The proposers are hopeful that external funding will be
obtained to further support program development and initiation until tuition dollars make
it self- sufficient.
Potential Graduate Success. The University of Tennessee in Nashville has a
compressed (24- month) Bachelor’s to MSN program. Students take the NCLEX-RN
licensure exam after 12 months and then complete the Master’s curriculum in the second
12 months. Inquiries regarding students’ success on the NCLEX-RN exam revealed that,
in the last cycle, 96 of 100 students successfully passed the exam (personal
communication, Brandy MacLaughlin, January 10 th , 2002). A 96% pass rate is higher
than that of traditional undergraduate nursing students at the University of Wisconsin
Oshkosh and surpasses the national pass rate for first-time NCLEX-RN takers.
Faculty Recruitment. Additional faculty will be necessary to teach courses in this
program. The AACN (2000) reports nursing faculty shortages acros s the United States.
However, an online program eliminates geographic barriers for faculty just as it does for
students. Faculty would not have to be based at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
This program would also provide opportunities for faculty and academic staff currently at
the College of Nursing to teach in the summer and interim. These opportunities are often
requested but are not available currently.
The overall outcome is to develop an accelerated, online BSN program for individuals
who already hold Bachelor’s degrees, meet qualification requirements, and have
completed the designated prerequisites (see Appendix A). The target for initiation is June
The proposed objectives to meet this outcome are as follows:
1. Compress undergraduate nursing courses and design them for the online
environment for a Bachelor’s to BSN Program (See Appendix B for
2. Work with campus Instructional Media Specialists regarding course
design for the online environment.
3. Develop an online educational program for nurses who will act as
preceptors for clinical experiences for students.
4. Write grants (federal, state, and private) to secure funding necessary for
program development, hardware and software, marketing, and hiring
additional faculty to teach in the program and assure the program can be
The three proposers seeking CAS funding and one proposer acting in-kind on this project
will work collaboratively to achieve the objectives and o verall outcome. The proposers
have different nursing specialty backgrounds and varied expertise in practice, teaching,
and research. This is necessary when compressing the courses and developing them for
the online environment.
Developing this program would offer significant professional development for all three
proposers. Undergraduate courses currently in place have to be modified and compressed
for offering in the proposed program. All three proposers will gain significant knowledge
regarding grant writing, principles of adult learning, and web-based education. All three
will grow professionally as they adapt courses to the online environment (see Appendix
B for specific propsers’ course responsibilities). Much collaborative effort will go into
program development. However, specific responsibilities and ensuing professional
development for each individual proposer is as follows:
Proposer A: This individual will have professional development in student evaluation
methods pertinent to distance education. Typical evaluation methods
heavily relied upon in the traditional undergraduate curriculum (multiple-
choice tests) will be modified. Case studies, essay questions, web-based
competency testing, and participation in online discussions are examples
of evaluation methods that will be explored. Proposer A will assure that all
course evaluation tools fit the online environment. Proposer A will also
have significant professional development in the area of marketing as she
works with consultants to develop a state and national marketing plan for
Proposer B: This individual will become proficient in course delivery via the internet
by working extensively with Instructional Media Personnel on campus to
gain expertise. This proposer will develop professionally as she becomes
an expert in evaluating or developing media to be used for student
learning. Proposer B’s professional development will be enhanced
regarding using preceptors for clinical experiences. This will be evident as
she develops a web-based educational program for nursing preceptors. The
purpose of this education program is to assure that clinical objectives are
consistent with those of baccalaureate education. It will also help to assure
that clinical experiences for students are maximized.
Proposer C: This individual will demonstrate professional development by gaining
extensive knowledge in the field of Adult Education and assuring that all
courses in the program are adapted to meet the needs of the adult learner.
This proposer has taught extensively in adult-oriented programs but has
only one advanced course in Adult Learning Theory. Proposer C will also
have significant professional growth as she develops learning activities
directed at the professional aspects of nursing that are suitable for the
Proposer D: (In-kind) Proposer D will oversee the administrative component of the
program. She will work with the State Board of Nursing and accrediting
bodies to assure that curriculum meet accreditation standards. As an
AACN site visitor, she will ensure that the program meets the
Credentialing Center for Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation
standards. She will consult with officials at the CCNE office as the
program unfolds. She will work with the Dean and the Provost regarding
personnel and budgetary issues. She will oversee ongoing curricular
competency-testing that will occur periodically during the program and
review program content to assure students will be successful on the
NCLEX-RN licensure exam after graduation.
Importance of Project to College of Nursing
Letter of support from Dean Knox of the College of Nursing and Provost and Vice
Chancellor Miller are attached (See Attachments).
Importance of Project to Stude nts
Several inquiries by people with college degrees have recently been directed to the
Student Services Coordinator in the College of Nursing regarding enrolling in a nursing
degree program. A program such as this would appeal to adult learners looking for a
career change or looking for a career with significant employment opportunities. The
program will be user- friendly; the three week residency requirement, clinical time in their
own communities, and a start-to-finish online sequence of courses keeps students in their
own homes with accessibility to classes at their own time. The pace will be extremely
accelerated. However, students will finish the program and face a wide-open job market
with a myriad of employment opportunities in just 12 months. The timing of the two on-
campus requirements connect students with each other at the beginning and end of the
program and also serves to connect them with the university. Students will earn a BSN
degree making them eligible for a wide variety of employment opportunities in both the
acute care and community settings.
Activities and Timeline
In response to the current economic status and the ever-growing social demand for
professional nurses, this program warrants immediate attention. The proposers have met
extensively in Fall 2001 and Fall Interim brainstorming, planning, and grant-writing to
help support the program. Work will continue in Spring 2002 prior to the funding period.
The timeline is as follows:
Groundwork for curriculum development for online environment.
Develop contacts with faculty associated with other programs like the one proposed.
Telephone conference with Dr. Carol Kasworm regarding appropriate application of
adult learning principles and guidelines applicable to accelerated program
development and web-based education.
Continue grant-writing and fund-seeking.
Initial groundwork with Instructional Medial Personnel regarding adapting courses
for online environment.
Summe r 2002
Meet with faculty associated with other programs like the one proposed here (Kansas
Meet with Dr. Kasworm (North Carolina)
Continue online course development with compression for accelerated format (see
Appendix B for the proposers’ specific course responsibilities).
Develop online educational program for nurses acting as preceptors to assure
educational outcomes of clinical experiences coincide with those of baccalaureate
Begin to load courses onto Blackboard platform.
Market program (cost of marketing [including hiring marketing consultant] have been
requested in other grants).
Continue loading all courses onto Blackboard platform (if not completed in Summer).
Marketing and advertising (radio, newspaper, television, direct mail).
Begin enrollment procedures and faculty recruitment.
Continue enrollment procedures
Secure faculty to teach all courses
Finalize all aspects of course adaptation to online environment.
Begin first class
The overall goal is to initiate the accelerated, online Bachelor’s to BSN Program in June
2003. Initial evaluation will focus on achievement of all aspects necessary for program
initiation. Design of the overall curriculum will be guided by: (a) the needs of adult
learners, (b) accreditation standards, and, (c) methods appropriate for the online
environment. Using appropriate consultants, including the UW Oshkosh Instructional
Media Specialists will help to achieve the goal.
After the program is initiated, the evaluation focus will be on individual courses and
faculty who teach them. This will include clinical courses, clinical sites, and preceptors.
Evaluation forms currently used in the Undergraduate Nursing Program will be adapted
for the online environment. These forms use a Likert scale to measure clarity of course
objectives, achievement of course objective, and effectiveness of teaching/learning
strategies. Any item receiving a score of 2.5 or less (on a 5 point scale) will be critically
reviewed and necessary modifications will be made.
Faculty teaching will be evaluated using a version of the current SOS forms that will be
adapted to the online environment. A tool will be developed to evaluate support services
including the library and Blackboard technical support.
The undergraduate program currently uses periodic competency testing developed by
Education Resources, Inc. (ERI) that measures students’ knowledge of content in
required nursing courses. ERI testing will be implemented in the online program, testing
at least quarterly. Students’ performance can be compared to that of traditional students.
Our hypothesis is that there will be no significant difference between the two groups.
Pass rates on the NCLEX-RN licensing exam will be tracked (as they are currently in the
undergraduate program). Longitudinal data will be collected (as with traditional
graduates) including employer satisfaction with program graduates, and one- and five-
year evaluations of graduate satisfaction with the program. Employment statistics will be
tracked for at least five years post-graduation.
Justification of 15% CAS
All four proposers have already devoted a considerable amount of time to initial
development and grant-writing during Fall 2001, Fall Interim, and Spring 2002.
The projects for Summer 2002 are extremely labor- intensive. The proposers will have
spent time in the spring reviewing the literature regarding principles of adult learning,
distance education, and evaluation methods appropriate for distance education. The
proposers will have spent a considerable amount of time meeting with other university
experts (adult learning, instructional media) and will have contacted faculty involved
with existing programs to establish contacts and gain knowledge in preparation for a
Curriculum development, done in the summer, will involve compressing content in the
traditional 2½-year nursing major into the 12-month program and formatting it for the
online environment. That will take a full- time effort on the part of the proposers.
Considerable time will be spent matching the curriculum in the proposed program to the
needs of the students it will serve and developing evaluation and testing materials
appropriate for the online environment. Formatting all the courses for online delivery and
loading them onto the Blackboard platform will be time consuming, even with the
assistance of Instructional Media Personnel.
This extremely labor- intensive endeavor warrants a 15% CAS for each of the three
proposers seeking funds. According to the Faculty Development Red Book, 7.5% CAS is
warranted for three credits of coursework. This project involves 50 credits for three
proposers or roughly 16 credits per person. It must be noted that three of the courses
proposed here, Pathophysiology, Community Health Theory, and Nursing Informatics are
already developed in the online format and are currently used in the RN to BSN
Collaborative Nursing Program. Therefore, these nine credits would have to be modified
for use in this accelerated program but would not require the degree of development that
the other courses require. Realistically, then, the three proposers would be responsible for
significant development of 13 credits each, still well beyond the Red Book guidelines for
This project will also involve significant in-kind efforts on the part of those individuals
with year- long contracts such as the Undergraduate Program Director in the College of
Nursing, the Dean of the College of Nursing, secretarial support staff at the College of
Nursing, and university Instructional Media Specialists.
As noted earlier, other grants are being written, or have been submitted, to assist with
development costs. These include an HRSA grant directed at increasing enrollment in
baccalaureate programs of nursing. Funding is being sought under the DINS Initiative.
Financial support is also being sought through health care agencies. Once the program is
initiated, it will generate roughly $300,000 per year and, based on budget projections,
will be self- supporting.
The auxiliary budget is as follows:
(paper, envelopes, postage, xeroxing, toner
to keep hard copies of all course materials) $ 300.00
Travel to meet with Consultant(s)
Airfare (one proposer) OR
automobile travel (two proposers) $ 500.00
Five nights lodging ($72.00/night) $ 360.00
Meals (five days @ 2 meals/day) $ 150.00
Car rental (if travel by plane) (three days @ $50.00/day) $ 150.00
Total requested auxiliary funds $ 1460.00
American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN). (2000). Nursing Shortage
Fact Sheet. Retrieved October 17, 2001, from
Aurora Health Care (n.d.). Employment, physician and volunteer opportunities. Retrieved
November 7, 2001 from http://www.aurorahealthcare.org
Health Resources and Services Administration. (2001). Basic Nurse Education and
Practice. Retrieved October 10, 2001, from
Knowles, M.S. (1984). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf
Merriam, S. B., & Caffarella, R. S. (1991). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive
guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Strope, L. (2001, November 3). Jobless rate soars to 5.4%. The Sheboygan Press, pp. A1,
Wisconsin Labor Market Information (1998a). 30 largest industries- Wisconsin
Projections 1998-2008. Department of Workforce Development. Retrieved
October 25, 2001, from
Wisconsin Labor Market Information (1998b). 30 occupations: Most annual job
openings. Wisconsin projections 1998-2008. Department of Workforce
Development. Retrieved October 25, 2001, from
Accelerated, Online Bachelor’s Degree to BSN Program
Admission Require ments and Prerequisites
Bachelor’s Degree from accredited college or university
Minimum cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.2 on all previous coursework
Nursing Assistant Certification
Growth and Development
Microbiology or Bacteriology
Accelerated, Online Bachelor’s to BSN Program
Proposed Curriculum with Proposers’ Responsibilities
Responsible Core Courses with Credit Allotment
B 3 Cr. Nursing Foundations/Health Assessment
A 2 Cr. Pathophysiology I 1
B 2 Cr.* Nursing Foundations/Health Assessment Lab
A 2 Cr. Pathophysiology II 1
A 3 Cr. Pharmacology
A 4 Cr. Care of the Acutely Ill Adult
A 1 Cr.* Introductory Care of the Acutely Ill Adult Clinical
C 3 Cr. Community Health 2
C 3 Cr.* Community Health Clinical
A 2 Cr.* Advanced Care Acutely Ill Adult Clinical
B 2 Cr. Nursing Care Across the Lifespan – Obstetrics
B 2 Cr. Nursing Care Across the Lifespan – Pediatrics
B 2 Cr. Nursing Care Across the Lifespan – Mental Health
A 2 Cr. Nursing Care Across the Lifespan – Geriatrics
All 4 Cr.* (2 plus 2) Individualized Clinical Courses (Cafeteria Plan –
must take 2 of the following offerings at 2 credits each: Pediatrics,
Obstetrics, Mental Health, Perioperative, Emergency, Intensive
Care, Home Health, or Arranged)
B 1 Cr. Ethnic Studies
C 1 Cr.* Diversity Practicum
C 3 Cr. Research/Nursing Theory
C 4 Cr. Professional Issues (Ethics, Legal Issues, Leadership,
Management, Professional Responsibilities)
D 2 Cr. Nursing Informatics 2
All 2 Cr. Capstone Project
* Denotes clinical courses
Current three credit Pathophysiology course already developed for online environment:
Would have to spend some time developing two separate two-credit courses.
Courses already developed for online environment
Timeline: Courses will be offered at a pace of one credit per week (an accepted standard
for online nursing programs.
Clinical time equals three hours per credit and lab time equals two hours per credit (as it
is in the undergraduate program currently). Clinical courses will require 40 hours per
week in the health care setting.
Letters of Support
HRSA Grant Opportunity to Offset Program Development Costs
Evidence of Proposers’ Attendance at Grant-Writing Se minars