MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

October 17, 2015 

Opportunities in nursing education assist individuals while addressing statewide nursing shortage


We’ve reached another important milestone in the development of Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN nursing program. We are seeking accreditation with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, the CCNE is an autonomous accrediting agency, contributing to the improvement of the public's health. CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing. Our self-study work is complete, there is a mock review taking place this week, and we look forward to hosting a CCNE onsite evaluation at Mayville State Nov. 16-18.

In 2009, Mayville State University and area healthcare providers began informal discussions, based upon the results of the ten-year North Dakota Board of Nursing’s “Nursing Needs Study.” The focus of the discussions was to explore current and future nursing shortages, as well as challenges associated with recruitment of registered nurses to rural communities if they are trained in large communities or in other states. These conversations led to further investigation related to current challenges and barriers to continuing nursing education and to determine prospective preferences related to educational delivery method.

As a result, Mayville State determined the need to establish an online RN-to-BSN program to fulfill an essential need focused on increasing the number of baccalaureate and higher-prepared nurses to meet the current and emerging needs of the health care community within North Dakota and beyond.

The mission, goals, and expected program outcomes are congruent with those of Mayville State University. They reflect professional nursing standards and guidelines, and consider the needs and expectations of the community.

Mayville State University’s online RN-to-BSN program was approved by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education in 2013. A program director, Tami Such, MSN, RN, PHN, was hired in the spring of 2014, along with a faculty member, Kari Matthys, MSN, RN. The Higher Learning Commission approved the program in July of 2014.

The university admitted the first cohort of seven students in the fall of 2014. A second cohort of eight students began in the spring of 2015, and a third cohort of 29 students began in the fall of 2015. With growth in the number of students enrolled, additional faculty members, Collette Christoffers, MSN, RN, PHN, and Monica Ptacek, MSN, RN, have also been hired.

Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN program is designed to assist associate degree nurses who wish to pursue their baccalaureate degree while maintaining their employment and continuing to support their families. In addition, because of the nursing shortage in North Dakota, healthcare facilities can’t afford to give their employees leave time to pursue educational goals, as they are needed in the health care setting. Mayville State’s entirely RN-to-BSN program is able to meet the needs of the working nurse.

Mayville State’s completely online RN-to-BSN program offers flexibility and affordability. Three courses are offered per semester, each in five-week blocks with both full-time and part-time enrollment options. In addition, scholarships of up to $1,050 are available for all eligible students, thanks to the generosity of the Edson and Margaret Larson Foundation, which has supported the RN-to-BSN program with major grant funding..

Through a partnership with Lake Region State College’s (LRSC) Dakota Nursing Program, we continue to provide opportunities for individuals who wish to work toward earning degrees in practical nursing (PN) and associate’s degree nursing (AD) on the Mayville State campus. Future nurses can take their required essential studies courses through Mayville State and the specialized nursing courses through LRSC, all while studying right here in Mayville. The RN-to-BSN program dovetails very nicely with this arrangement, which would ultimately lead to the completion of the baccalaureate degree (BSN).

We consider it a privilege to assist in educating nurses, a critical need for our state. The nursing shortage is most severe in rural settings, but it is being experienced widely across the state. Applications for the spring semester are currently being accepted for the Mayville State RN-to-BSN program. For more information, call 701-788-5289 or go to