New RN Completion Program

Mount Mary University has created an opportunity for women to complete a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree starting in the fall 2016 semester. Current students and existing RNs will be molded into healthcare community leaders. Unlike the previous arrangement with Columbia College of Nursing, students who complete the new BSN program will receive a degree from Mount Mary.

“Our program will develop creative thinkers and leaders, who will be part of the transformation of healthcare delivery,” said Mount Mary President Eileen Schwalbach.

Christine Olson, who helped develop the program, was hired as the chief nurse administrator and an assistant professor. The Chicago-native received her in pediatrics from Marquette University. Olson also teaches nursing and leadership classes at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Filling a Need

Christine Olson

Christine Olson

There has been an increased need for nurses with a bachelor’s degree as more hospitals work towards Magnet status. According to the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center’s website, “ANCC Magnet Recognition® is the highest and most prestigious international distinction a healthcare organization or hospital can receive for nursing excellence and outstanding patient care.”

The ANCC has set a goal for 80 percent of nurses to have baccalaureate degree by 2020

“Right now, nurses are the least educated of the health care professional team,” Olson said.

This does not mean the associate’s programs will no long be needed.

“The associate’s route is more affordable and enables individuals to get into the workforce sooner,” said Olson. “You can lead from any chair. It’s not like you need a title to be a leader.


The nursing program emphasizes the importance of leadership Mount Mary’s other programs. The curriculum includes Leadership for Social Justice and two nursing-profession specific leadership courses.

“It’s helping them have more impact in the health care system and in their environments,” said Cheryl Bailey, of Natural and Health Sciences who spear-headed the proposal for the program.

The capstone course will place students in roles within the healthcare community such as clinical nurse specialists, case managers, risk managers and nurse navigators.

Capstone placement locations could be with any of the major health systems in the community.

“They are eager to have our students follow/shadow/work with some of these nurse leaders,” Olson said.

Mixing with Current Students

The new healthcare courses will enrich the experience of students from other departments including:

  • Dietetics
  • Psychology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Sociology, Social Work
  • Counseling Program
  • Art Therapy

“The courses that will be offered I think of interest to some of our OT or the dieticians,” Olson said. These include courses on healthcare reimbursement, technology and healthcare and nursing-specific .

Other programs at Mount Mary will increase a student’s marketability in the workplace.

“The availability of our Spanish certificate, minor and major to nursing students is an important benefit,” Bailey said.

Flexible Schedule

The nursing program can be completed in two years or in an eight or 16-week accelerated program. This was structured to accommodate for a nurse’s typical -day work week.

“We want to provide a safe landing,” Bailey said of those coming back to school after a long absence.

It is a blended class format meaning partially online. During the classroom portion, students have important face-to-face time with fellow students and professors. The options aim to make completion attainable for busy lives.

“I’m not saying easy,” Olson said. “But it can be done.”

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