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Making a Difference

by Monica Smith

Jul 14, 2019, 9:00 AM.

Three RN to BSN professors talk about FIU’s fully online program.

Florida International University’s highly ranked online nursing program for RNs is making a difference. Three professors candidly speak about why they believe FIU’s fully online RN to BSN degree is a program with distinction as they discuss its impact with veterans, the community and higher standards. Read below to see how the program addresses today’s healthcare industry and produces graduates who have a great influence in the healthcare industry.

Dr. Maria Olenick: Veterans

Our online RN to BSN program is designed to include veteran healthcare into the curriculum wherever possible. We know that Florida has the third highest number of veterans, after California and Texas, who seek healthcare for specific issues related to their service. These issues can include treatment for things such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, exposure to chemicals and chemical agents, loud vibrations, and hearing issues.  

Within the nursing curriculum in general, there is a veteran/military focus integrated even where you might not expect, such as in pediatrics and obstetrics. Children of those who serve may experience strife when parents are deployed. Additionally, frequent moves may affect children when parents are stationed in new areas or positions. We also instruct our BSN-seeking students to understand veterans’ social and mental health. This has an impact on pediatric and obstetrics patients, as partners of those in the military may deliver babies while the fathers are overseas.

We will continue to integrate veteran-centric content into our curriculum as part of our VA Nurse Academic Partnership (VANAP), so our students will understand how to serve the active military and veteran populations.


Dr. Maria De Los Santos: Community

The trend that we’re seeing is that more healthcare will be provided at the community level. Understanding this, public health is imperative, especially in urban communities. Every public health department including the Center for Disease Control needs nurses equipped with the knowledge base necessary to handle outbreaks, such as measles. That’s where nurses come in with education campaigns to help manage public health crises. Preventive care is something that our communities need, and nurses who want to work at the community level in facilities will need a BSN to be able to address these populations. 

Teaching community and public health nursing online is feasible since there are so many resources available, utilizing various media sources, in the public domain. These options help teach our students the skills they need to be successful in this field.

Our RN to BSN program really exposes learners to the requirements of leadership, role modeling and public health, and it addresses communities in ways to help people thrive. Within our curriculum, we teach our learners clinical, scientific, decision making, and humanistic skills.

Our program offers academic rigor, yet there’s flexibility for the students at the same time. It provides balance, and our students maintain that the balance is doable.

Dr. Nola Holness: Higher Standards

I’m a poster-child for this program and I am able to fall back on my experience as a student in order to teach my students. I came from Jamaica as an RN and I realized that there are so many opportunities in nursing, but to make progress in the industry, it all starts with a BSN.

The fully online RN to BSN program is very cost-effective and can be completed in a year. It’s a very special program, in my opinion. Having walked through the program myself, I promote this program to students as a doorway that opens opportunities to higher salaries, leadership roles, research, and meeting the needs of the healthcare population with greater standards. 

The BSN gave me the ethics and nursing theories on why I do what I do. That’s what I really like about the program. You are given the ethical platform as well as the cultural awareness and the holistic, psycho-social aspect of the patient. This knowledge leads to better outcomes as well.

My role is to take students through their senior capstone of the practicum. Within that year, students are guided and encouraged. This really decreases stress for students with other life obligations. Because of this, students in the program realize, “Hey, I can do this.”

RNs who earn their BSN degree will be able to do more advanced care because they are more qualified. Without a BSN, there’s limited progress or movement professionally. To be successful in life, you need to have a good education, and our program is accredited and very well regarded.

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