McAuley School of Nursing Offers UDM's First Online Degree Program

Healthy Times, Summer 2002

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The McAuley School of Nursing is launching the first online degree program at the University of Detroit Mercy this month (June 2002). The Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Program will be offered online to employees of the Trinity Health System in Michigan, California, Iowa and Idaho.

"There are many programs in the College of Health Professions and throughout the University that are web-enhanced, but this is the first program that's totally online," says Suzanne Mellon, dean, College of Health Professions.

The BSN Completion Program is for registered nurses who have completed diploma or certificate programs and wish to earn a bachelor's degree. UDM offers the program at its Outer Drive Campus and at numerous hospitals throughout Michigan.

Faculty and administrators have worked closely with Trinity, the nation's third largest Catholic health system, to develop the online program. Eventually, the 40-month, 42-credit program will be offered to Trinity employees at 28 locations throughout the country. The program will help Trinity enhance the skills of its nursing staff, improve employee retention and address the looming nursing shortage.

Despite its high-tech delivery, an important component of the program is to ensure that students feel connected to the University, their workplace and each other.

"We're committed to being student-focused and maintaining individual attention," says Jenny Wilds, nursing outreach coordinator.

That goal is being accomplished by limiting classes to 25 students, and communicating with them frequently in a variety of ways. Video conferencing--which helped students and faculty connect names and faces--was used for orientation in May, and will be used again on other occasions.

Staff and faculty will be easily accessible to students via e-mail and telephone. A dedicated toll-free line allows students to reach faculty easily. A special web site for the program is in the works to provide students up-to-date information and respond to questions or concerns ( Students will get to know each other better through required group projects, and every location has designated a mentor to provide assistance when needed.

"I've talked to a number of the students who started out with other online programs, but dropped out because they felt so disconnected," says Wilds. "They're thrilled with how responsive we are."

Putting the program online was yeoman's work, according to Mellon, but well worth it. "It took a tremendous effort by a whole team of people--faculty, College and University administrators, staff, the Instructional Design Studio, and Trinity's corporate staff," she said. "Everyone is so excited about the program. It's going to be great."

Look for information about the program on its web site: