For Travis Waldrop, Santa Fe College’s new BSN Completion Program was just what the doctor ordered.
“I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility of the online component and not having to go to a physical class,” said Waldrop, a registered nurse in the oncology department at the VA Medical Center in Gainesville.
“I work a variable schedule at the hospital, so I don’t have set work days,” he said. “Having a window for submitting assignments makes it a lot more compatible with my schedule.”
Waldrop, 33, started SF’s BSN program in Spring A as a member of the first 30-student cohort. He was also the first student to submit his application when registration opened in December. Students must hold both an AA degree or higher, and an ASN from an accredited program, and be a registered nurse to apply.
“We’ve had requests from our former students, our current students, and our community partners for years,” said Ed Bonahue, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “And now the hard work of our nursing program leadership and faculty has given us the means to fulfill those requests.”
Last December, Waldrop was preparing to apply to a BSN program in central Florida when he received a call about Santa Fe’s new program. He plans to eventually earn a master’s degree in nursing. Completing his BSN moves him one step nearer his goal.
“I’d gotten my ASN through Santa Fe, and I really enjoyed that program, and I was familiar with the instructors and online classes at Santa Fe,” he said.
So he decided to apply to Santa Fe’s program instead.
“I was very pleased with how the BSN program is set up,” he said. ” And it’s local, so if I do have a problem, I can come straight to campus. The enrollment process was also a lot easier at Santa Fe.”
Each of Santa Fe’s BSN classes are offered as a seven-week “mini-mester” for $382 in-state tuition.
“It’s really designed for the working nurse who is already an RN, but wants to go back to school while working full-time,” said Scott Fortner, Health Sciences counselor. “This program is online, but the professors and students have an extremely high level of interaction that helps to compensate for the absence of a physical classroom. And because they’re the first cohort, we solicit their feedback regularly.”
How do students seem to like the new program?
“They like the program. The biggest challenge seems to be balancing their school work with their work and family lives, and issues of time management,” Fortner said.
Since the classes are offered in mini-mesters, it creates multiple entry and exit points. If a students needs to take a semester or two off, it’s easy to return a few months later.
“This is something where you can jump off the train and then jump back on at a point that’s more convenient in your life,” Fortner said.
One of the current BSN students is getting married in April, and is planning to take Spring B off and return in the Fall. Fortner said staff keep in close contact with students to keep them apprised of dates and opportunities to resume their classes.
“We give our online students a lot of support,” Fortner said.
Janice Goodson, 48, graduated with her ASN from Santa Fe in 1993. This is her first time back in school since, and her first online class. Learning how to use ANGEL, the online learning management system, has been a challenge, but she’s mastering it and earning good grades.
“I like the mini-mesters, and focusing on one class at a time,” said Goodson, a registered nurse in the thoracic and cardiovascular surgery department at Shands Hospital.
Goodson works seven days on, seven days off, so she tries to front-load her assignments to the weeks when she’s off.
She said the climate is changing in nursing credentialing. More positions are requiring a BSN. Attaining her BSN will afford her more options if she decides to leave floor nursing before she retires, she said.
“I thought, ‘I can’t pass this opportunity up,’ so I just signed up, and I thought, ‘it will be my 50th birthday present to myself.’ ”
Fortner urges registered nurses with an AA and ASN degree to come in and personally talk about the new program.
“Come see us in our office,” he said.
There are still openings in the next cohort; classes start in Spring B, March 12. Please call the Health Sciences Counseling Office at 352-395-5650 for more information.
BSN Completion Program – information Packet (PDF)
Webpage with contact information