?HESSTON — When nurses clock in for work at the hospital, they anticipate working long shifts at all hours of the day and night. ?With such a demanding career, it can be difficult for nurses to find time to continue their education. ?A new program at Hesston College is seeking to make that process easier: Kansas nurses now can advance their careers at home, thanks to an agreement between 18 Kansas two-year colleges, including Hesston College, and the University of Kansas School of Nursing. The agreement allows nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing from a participating college to transition to pursuing their bachelor of science in nursing through KU’s online RN-to-BSN program. ?“We look forward to offering another avenue for students to work toward their BSN,” said Bonnie Sowers, director of Hesston’s nursing program. “We are working to expand articulation agreements with private and public universities to fit our students’ needs and interests, and are very pleased with KU’s program. It is seamless and extremely well-designed for our students.”?She said many Hesston graduates work in their home communities as RNs, and this program will enable them to continue their education without leaving those communities. ?“That is very attractive, particularly to some of our nontraditional students,” she said. ?KU has offered an online RN-to-BSN degree since 1996, but the new agreement makes it easier to facilitate the transition, a news release stated. The new agreement guarantees admission to every student who graduates from an associate’s degree nursing program with a 2.5 GPA or higher and passes the licensure exam to become an RN. ?The Hesston nursing program has long-standing articulation agreements with other Mennonite colleges across the country, but the agreement with KU will be its first agreement with a public state university. ?Under this new agreement, two-year college faculty also will play a role in the program. The RN-to-BSN program will employ master’s or doctorally prepared faculty at the two-year colleges to teach many of the courses. ?Students choosing to enroll in KU’s RN-to-BSN program will have to earn a total of 120 credit hours, including 60 hours in prerequisites and liberal arts curriculum. The last 30 hours of the program will be completed online through the KU School of Nursing. ?Sandra Zerger, academic dean, vice president of academics at Hesston College, said a high percentage of students continue their education after graduating from Hesston College, and she is excited about the opportunities the new partnership with KU will bring. ?“This is one of the options, among many, for our students,” she said. “... This offers them a really good opportunity to continue their nursing education.” ?Located 30 miles north of Wichita, Hesston College is a two-year liberal arts college of Mennonite Church USA.
— Rachel Schlegel, Hesston College, and Cori Ast, University of Kansas, contributed to this article.