This past summer, the State Board of Higher Education granted Mayville State University approval to proceed with an RN to BSN nursing program. Through the new online program, Mayville State will educate nurses at the baccalaureate-degree level in order to equip them to better serve the health care needs of the citizens of North Dakota. The need for nurses is especially great in rural areas.

More than 80% of North Dakota’s 53 counties are designated as partial or whole county health professional shortage areas. The registered nurse shortage is most severe in rural settings, but it is also being experienced in larger North Dakota cities.

A solution to the shortage of nurses is to educate more of them in the state and provide them with the working conditions that would make employment in the state an attractive option. Nurses who are trained in a rural environment tend to stay in the rural communities.

Baccalaureate-prepared nurses can help address the nurse training concerns. With bachelor’s degrees, nurses can be involved in the education of future nurses as clinical instructors or preceptors. In that way, they can directly contribute to an increase in the number of nurses educated in the state. In practice settings, they can provide the leadership needed to create positive work environments.

A national report states that approximately 20% of the currently working nurses will retire prior to 2020. A report from Sanford Health in 2012 stated that 50% of the current nursing workforce will retire by 2020. The average age of RNs was projected to be 44.5 years in 2012. The future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically as the baby boomers reach their 60s and older.

“Nurses educated through the new Mayville State program will help to fill the vacancies that are left as nurses begin to retire,” said Roger Baier, CEO at Sanford Mayville. “Investments made in the Mayville State nursing program today will help Sanford Mayville continue to provide quality nursing care to patients for years to come.”

While it is open to all, the RN to BSN nursing program is being geared to meet the needs of the working RN who is in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree. The two-path system and courses offered online create flexibility for adult learners. Students will be able to take three nursing courses per semester, each in a five-week block.

“We are currently pursuing RN to BSN program approval from Mayville State’s regional accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission,” said Mayville State Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Keith Stenehjem. “The accreditation process should be completed in the summer of 2014.” Pending that approval, Mayville State would begin offering classes in the Fall Semester of 2014 or Spring Semester of 2015. (Approval has since been granted.)

Mayville State University already works closely with Lake Region State College and the Dakota Nursing Program (DNP) in the education of nurses by providing pre-requisite courses for their practical and associate degree nursing programs. Offering a bachelor’s degree program is a logical next step for Mayville State. University officials will work in concert with Lake Region, the DNP, and others offering nursing programs to provide the best possible program at Mayville.

“By participating in Giving Hearts Day Thursday, Feb. 13, the public will have an opportunity to help make the new RN to BSN program at Mayville State soar,” said Dena Bergstrom, annual giving associate/phonathon coordinator with the MSU Foundation.”

Giving Hearts Day is a 24-hour online give-a-thon for non-profit organizations in western Minnesota and North Dakota. The event is hosted every year by the Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) and Impact Foundation to help participating charities dramatically increase fundraising success by creating awareness and a 24-hour window of participation that spurs donors to action.

Gifts made to the Mayville State University Foundation through the efforts of Giving Hearts Day will be applied to implementing Mayville State’s RN to BSN nursing program. Gifts of $10 or more (up to a total of $4,000) will be matched by the Dakota Medical Foundation. All gifts made to this project will also be matched at 50% by the North Dakota “Matching Fund for Enhanced Academics.”

“The extra matching funds that are available will give donors an opportunity to ‘super-size’ the impact of their gifts, which will be used to help address the healthcare needs of our community and state,” said Bergstrom, who is coordinating the MSU Foundation’s participation in Giving Hearts Day. “I encourage everyone to give from the heart on Feb. 13.”

To contribute to the RN to BSN program on Giving Hearts Day, Thursday, Feb. 13, go to and search for Mayville State University Foundation. For assistance with your online donation, you may stop at the Larson Alumni Center at Mayville State or the Goose River Bank in Mayville between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to make your gift and enjoy refreshments. Free blood pressure checks will be available too. As an added bonus, you’re invited to warm up with a bowl of chili at the Larson Center from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Feb. 13.

For more information about Giving Hearts Day, go to or contact Dena Bergstrom at 701-788-4864 or