Loyola Recognized for Online Nursing Program

Courtesy of Natalie BattagliaRegistered nurses can obtain a more advanced bachelor of science in nursing degree away from Loyola’s Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing’s physical campus thanks to the online RN to BSN program, which was just recognized as one of the top programs of its kind in the United States.

Loyola’s online nursing program was recognized as one of the top in the nation. The program allows a registered nurse (RN) to achieve a more advanced Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) all exclusively online.

In July, universities were evaluated by College Choice. Loyola ranked 26th with a score of 81.28 for so-called RN to BSN degrees after its overall reputation, cost of tuition and academic ability was evaluated.

College Choice helps students find the right college to attend. By publishing rankings and supporting information, the goal of the organization is to make choosing a college easy and fun.     

A person becomes an RN when they complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). A BSN allows a person to be eligible for advanced nurse practitioner programs, graduate education, job security and career advancement, according to College Choice.

Over recent years, College Choice has seen an increase in the number of RN to BSN programs throughout America due to the rising competitive professional world, and therefore, increasing education expectations. Many of the classes are online, which allows the nontraditional, or online, students to achieve degrees quickly and cheaply.

Loyola’s online program is within the Niehoff School of Nursing. The nursing school is designed to push forward careers and increase an individual’s potential, according to College Choice.

In order to achieve the online RN to BSN degree at Loyola, the student must complete at least 30 credit hours. Within the traditional nursing program, it takes two years to obtain the RN degree and then an additional two years for the BSN degree.

The Loyola community should be proud of its online nursing school, said Monique Ridosh, director of Loyola’s RN to BSN program.

“We have traditionally been known for preparing leaders in nursing. And being able to offer this education to nurses that are already in institutions and organizations and being able to prepare them as leaders is the service we are providing,” Ridosh said.

Ridosh said part of the program’s success is that it’s available online.

“I have reorganized this curriculum, since 2011, to be fully online,” Ridosh said. “We used to have students in the program who had to come into class, traditional students, and they were already working RNs, so that was very difficult for them. So we reorganized the program to be completely online and accessible to nurses, not only locally, but across the country,” Ridosh said.

The online professors are part of Loyola’s faculty. Annie Thomas, an online RN to BSN professor, said professors work with students to accommodate their particular needs.

“Even though it’s online, it’s very much a student and faculty relationship,” Thomas said. “We have 24-year-olds to middle-aged, and I even have a student that is in her late 50s, so they come from a very diverse background. We have to be flexible to the needs of each student.”

Thomas said the online nursing program is evolving because it’s still in the early stages; the faculty are constantly improving the experience for the students.

“The program is growing and it’s becoming more popular. We are all learning from doing it, so each semester we make changes,” Thomas said.

Both Ridosh and Thomas said they believe many people at Loyola are unaware the online nursing program exists. They hope this recent achievement will inform the community of the program’s success.

Kevin Barry, an online RN to BSN student, started the nursing program in the summer of 2015 and will be graduating this December.

“I went to a two-year program for my RN degree, which it usually takes about two years to get all of your prerequisites,” Barry said. “And then the BSN program definitely adds another layer to the practice of nursing. You don’t learn nursing skills in the BSN degree. You learn the research, community and health aspects of nursing. You also take electives, general education classes like religion and philosophy. Both actually helped me because I feel like I got a complete education.”

Barry said taking online classes is flexible, which makes it possible to work and get an education at the same time.

“There is a schedule, but you can really fit it into your own time. Whenever you are able to devote a couple hours to studying or doing course work, it’s really up to you when you do that.”

The community within Loyola’s nursing program contributes to its success, according to Barry.

“I remember at my orientation they talked a lot about wanting to make sure you still felt like you were a Loyola student, which I do,” Barry said. “There’s a lot of good communication with the advisors and teachers, so you really do feel like you are apart of the community, even though you are online. And then I have the opportunity to graduate with the whole school. I’ll get to wear a cap and gown during the ceremony, so I’m looking forward to that as well.”

As a whole, Loyola’s nursing program is recognized as one of the best. In 2017,   College Factual ranked the university 25th out of 508 nationally. Niche ranked Loyola second in the state of Illinois. There is roughly 165 first-year students admitted to Loyola’s nursing program every year.

Allison Montemar, a junior nursing major, said the program is designed to teach students from the minute they are accepted.

“I like how Loyola is a direct-entry program because many schools have it set up where you only start nursing programs in your junior year, and even then, you’re still trying to compete for a spot,” Montemar, 20, said. “Here at Loyola, as long as you’re admitted as a freshman into the nursing program, you stay as a nursing student throughout your four years.”

Alex Wheeler, a junior nursing major, said the nursing program is set in the same values as the rest of the university.

“I like how the nursing program is in line with the values Loyola as a Jesuit school … care of the whole person and treating people with dignity I think is also what Loyola instills on the nursing majors,” Wheeler, 21, said.

Shruti Patel, a junior nursing major, said she enjoys the people in the program.

“One of the most unique things about the nursing program that I really like is that there is only a few of us … we really feel like a community, so a lot of us work together when it comes to tests, studying, homework and clinicals,” Patel, 20, said. “I feel like you have a lot of resources within your peers when you’re a nursing major at Loyola University Chicago.”

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