Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Practicing nurses need to be qualified at the baccalaureate level at a rate of 80% by 2020 to meet the needs of the increasingly demanding healthcare industry. Designed to meet this need, the online RN-BS (registered nurses earning a Bachelor of Science) nursing program at a local university has a declining completion rate that needs to be addressed and increased. The conceptual framework for this project was a qualitative program evaluation with a case study design; the project was designed to determine if the structure of the program was limiting student success or if factors experienced by full-time working RNs in the program were impacting success. E-mail interviews were conducted with 29 students in the online RN-BS nursing program who were selected through purposeful sampling. Research questions for this study examined the barriers faced by experienced nurses when they studied in the online RN-BS nursing program while maintaining their work schedule as RNs. Predetermined, open-ended, semistructured questions produced data that were analyzed through coding and theme identification. Themes were validated through member checking and use of an external auditor. Data revealed that students preferred the online format of the program to a face-to-face program, and they felt the local university nursing faculty was responsive and supportive. Challenges the students faced were primarily time management, cost of the program, information technology issues including learning the learning management system, group projects, and study skills. Based on the findings, an orientation program was developed that will affect social change by helping the local university nursing students complete the baccalaureate preparation they need to comply with the increasing industry demands.