When Shelly Wells PhD, MBA, APRN-CNS, ANEF began developing Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s DNP program, she would talk extensively about it with her BSN students.
The division chair and professor would be bringing something new to the school and the surrounding communities.
And for student Christina Erford, BSN, RN, NPD-BC, she wanted to be part of that first class.
Already sold on the program, she carried out her due diligence.
“When I started looking into programs and comparing it you couldn’t beat the cost point for a doctorate and you can’t beat the staff,” Erford said. “The faculty is amazing.”
Her ninth and final semester will end this spring. Outside of 192 clinical hours per semester, Erford will have completed the majority of the program online.
She also completed a week-long session in the summer where students check in on a Sunday and spend the week in immersive learning until Friday afternoon.
When Erford graduates this May she wants to find either a clinic or urgent care to begin her career.
A Nightingale Award of Nursing Excellence recipient from the Oklahoma Nurses Association, Wells takes pride in her low faculty-to-student ratio and the relationships her faculty has forged at healthcare facilities across northwestern Oklahoma.
Allowing students to learn in their communities creates a natural draw for students. The NWOSU Charles Morton Share Trust Nursing program is among the top in the state in national RN licensing examination (NCLEX) pass rates.
This year will mark the inaugural graduating class for the BSN-DNP program.
“They’re all educated as family nurse practitioners with an emphasis on the needs of a rural healthcare community,” Wells said. “It will be a fairly good sized class – more than we ever anticipated when we first put this together.”
Planning for the program incorporated a focus on creating health care for surrounding communities.
“Our focus was to increase primary care access to rural Oklahoma because rural Oklahoma is in such dire straits when it comes to health care providers,” Wells said.
There’s little doubt the Alva university is educating nurses to provide healthcare to rural Oklahomans for generations to come.
“They are going to be prepared to walk into a primary care clinic or office and care for patients across the life span,” Wells said. “They will have leadership skills that excel many peers – I’ve been told that by preceptors.”
With more than 30 years of teaching experience in nursing, Wells has closely followed the national trend calling for more BSN-prepared nurses.
The attraction of Northwestern has always been a quality, affordable program with the flexibility of offerings.
The RN to BSN completion program is offered online with no campus requirement. With no traditional clinical hours the program can be completed in 12 months.
“It works well for the working nurse,” Wells said.
The traditional BSN program is delivered at four different sites in Northwestern Oklahoma with full-time faculty at each site.
Small class sizes and a low faculty-to-student ratio is also a draw. Eighty percent of faculty are doctorally-prepared, a rarity in a rural state.
“We’re a busy, dynamic little place up in northwestern Oklahoma,” Wells laughed.
For the next step, Wells is helping Northwestern work towards an acute care practitioner certificate.
“That will help round out the health care provider needs for rural Oklahoma,” she said. Visit www.nwosu.edu/school-of-professional-studies/nursing