Experience counts when is comes to education. And the staff at Metropolitan State College of Denver’s Department of Nursing brings a wealth of real-world awareness and teaching experience to the classroom.
Metro State’s six full-time faculty and several affiliate part-time instructors have previous clinical nursing experience, said Linda Stroup, department chair of Metro’s nursing program and director of the Accelerated Nursing Program.
“All of our full-time faculty have teaching experience and bring that combination of real life experience and clinical side of nursing and previous teaching experience as well,” Stroup said.
Combine that experience with Metro’s overall mission of being an urban, diverse institution and students find a real-life academic learning environment.
Students interested in nursing careers have two options at Metro: the Baccalaureate Registered Nurse Completion Option (BRNCO) and Accelerated Nursing Option (ACNO).
The BRNCO, also known as the RN to BSN program, is designed for nurses who already have an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing. It allows nurses to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing, building on their previous nursing education. There are about 150 students in this program, which was started in the 1970s.
BRNCO is structured so students can determine their own pace, taking as little as one course a semester or completing all courses in four semesters, as an average student does. In the RN to BSN program, the majority of students work full-time while going to college.
“Some nurses may extend their educational timeframe out to balance against work and home life,” Stroup said. “We have a great range of students.”
Some of the nursing students are new graduates who’ve just finished their associate degrees, while others have been out of school for 20 years, she said. It’s this diversity of students that makes Metro different from most four-year colleges.
“It makes it a great learning experience because of the whole range of work experience that students bring into the classroom,” Stroup said.
“Most have worked in different hospitals. We have nurses working in critical care to home health and pediatrics to mental health; and they bring experience into the classroom. The newer graduates don’t have that long work experience, but they bring their educational experiences.”
The ACNO is a highly competitive program designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-health-related field that want to complete their prelicensure curriculum.
“They do all of the coursework and clinical hours in hospitals to take the licensing exam to become nurses,” Stroup said. Graduates are eligible to apply to take the national professional nurse licensing exam.
Previously offered on an 13-month module schedule, the ACNO program is now being offered on a 17-month semester schedule.
Stroup said the program was lengthened due to student feedback that the timeframe was too intense and students could benefit from an extended schedule.
Stroup said students in this competitive, full-time program have varied life and work experiences. In 2008, more than 180 applicants applied for the program’s 36 spots.
Selection to the ACNO program is based on the applicants’ education, prerequisite GPA, work experience, certifications, volunteer experience, honors, resume and personal essay.
The application deadline for the next program which starts in January 2010 is Sept. 1. For more information or to apply, go the school’s web site at http://www.mscd.edu/~abs-nur/applyonline.htm
Stroup earned her BSN in 1978 from College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minn., and went on to earn her master’s degree in nursing in 1983 from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She is currently enrolled in the doctorate program in educational leadership at Colorado State University.
Stroup has worked in nursing education since 1983. More recently she taught full-time for four years at Arapahoe Community College (ACC) and then was director of ACC’s nursing program for about 10 years.
She came to Metro in 2006 as a full-time professor and then moved into her role as department chair. She said is was a logical move from her role as director of the nursing program at ACC.
“Coming to Metro was very philosophically aligned with the community college idea,” Stroup said.
She also sees a lot of potential in terms of growth with Metro’s nursing programs.
One initiative Stroup said Metro is in the early stages of looking at is planning to start a traditional four-year nursing program, in which students who want to earn their bachelor’s in nursing would do all of their coursework on a four-year path at Metro.
“In terms of thinking about the student population, we would be able to serve a group of students very well,” Stroup said. “We have a lot of interest in that, so the demand is there.”
This falls in line with a trend in health care with employers wanting to hire nurses with bachelor’s degrees, she added. Another area for growth is the possibility of Metro offering a RN to BSN Degree Completion Program onsite at Front Range Community College (FRCC) in Westminster.
Metro and FRCC are holding four information sessions to inform prospective students about the fall 2010 program and to determine student interest. The sessions will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14 and Monday, Sept. 28 at FRCC’s Westminster campus in room B0250.
For more information, contact Kathy Trummer, FRCC Nursing Department, at 303-404-5210, or Julie Aguilar, Metro State Nursing Program, at 303-556-3668.