MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

October 29, 2016 

RN-to-BSN nursing program addressing statewide nursing shortage, applications now being accepted for spring


We are privileged to do our part in assisting with the statewide nursing shortage through our online RN-to-BSN nursing program at Mayville State University. It is essential that we make a concerted effort to increase 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.

In 2009, Mayville State University and area health care 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 determining prospective preferences related to education delivery method.

As a result of these conversations, the online RN-to-BSN nursing program was established at Mayville State, led by the wonderful efforts of Mayville State Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Keith Stenehjem. The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education approved the program in 2013, and The Higher Learning Commission approved the program in July of 2014. The university admitted the first cohort of students in the fall of 2014 and conferred the first Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees in December 2015. Through acceptance of new students each fall and spring semester, 24 graduates have completed the RN-to-BSN program and enrollment has grown to more than 50 nursing students enrolled this fall semester.

We are grateful to the program director Tami Such for her extraordinary work in getting this program up and continuing to run successfully. Not only is she directing the program, she is also coordinating clinical experiences for all nursing students. In addition, the efforts of faculty members Kari Matthys, Collette Christoffers, and Monica Ptacek, as well as administrative coordinator Shannon Skovlund have all greatly contributed to the success of the program. 

Another important milestone in the development of Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN program was achievement of accreditation in May 2016, granted by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), whose decision was retroactive to November 2015. 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. Mayville State is pleased to provide its students and graduates all of the benefits afforded through CCNE accreditation now and in the future.

Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN program is designed to assist current registered nurses in pursuing baccalaureate degrees in nursing while maintaining their current employment and providing support to their families. Because of the nursing shortage in North Dakota and the need to retain nurses in the health care setting, healthcare facilities can’t afford to give their employees time off to pursue advanced education. By offering online courses, each in five-week blocks, registered nurses are able to meet their educational goals one to two classes at a time while continuing to contribute to the health care workforce.

Thanks to the generosity of the Edson and Margaret Larson Foundation, which has supported the RN-to-BSN program with major grant funding, $75,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded or promised to nursing students and graduates to date. Additional scholarship funds are available as a result of Mayville State’s generous alumni and friends who contributed to the Giving Hearts Day fundraiser in February of 2016.

Recent statistics presented within the North Dakota Center for Nursing’s January 2016 North Dakota Nursing Education, Supply and Demand Chartbook provide evidence of the impending shortage of registered nurses in the state. Specifically, the Chartbook included reference to North Dakota as having 4,430 registered nurse openings through 2020, according to a national report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Further, the Chartbook highlighted the ratio of RNs to population include an anticipated 39% drop by 2030, dependent on population growth. Also, 81% of North Dakota’s 53 counties are designated as health professional shortage areas. Based upon established relationships with various two-year colleges and industry partners, Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN program will continue to contribute to these statewide issues by expanding the level of education for registered nurses across the state. In alignment with the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendation to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degrees to 80% by 2020, Mayville State looks forward to continuing partnerships and expanding the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the state and beyond.

At Mayville State University we are excited to have the opportunity to assist current RN’s in facilitating achievement of their educational goals and to provide them with the next step toward securing advanced practice nursing degrees. In addition, we look forward to remaining active in expanding the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses and value the impact this will have in enhancing the quality of nursing care provided across the state. Applications for RN-to-BSN program are currently being accepted for the spring semester. For more information, call 701-788-5289 or go to