Leading change in a distance-based baccalaureate program

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Amber Proctor Williams, DNP, MSN APRN
Susan M. Poslusny, PhD
College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Learning Objective 1: Discuss the role of DNP prepared nurses in educational leadership positions to meet the healthcare needs in rural areas.

Learning Objective 2: Describe the organizational assessment completed for this system from a leadership perspective.

Nurses are vital to the healthcare in rural areas and rural areas have greater shortages of nurses than urban areas. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses (BSN) are needed to address the increasingly complex healthcare and community needs in rural counties. Publicly funded universities have a mandate to provide access to education in needed disciplines across the state.

Purpose: The purpose of this research utilization study was to assess the feasibility of expanding the current distance-based rural BSN program from a systems level and implement major change within a system.  

Method: Using Kotter’s eight stage change process, organizational assessment served to deconstruct the complexity surrounding the feasibility of expansion. A strategic plan using logic models and system-specific metrics guided decision-making regarding the allocation of scarce resources to expand BSN enrollments and add a simulation lab at the regional campus.

Results: The study found that an effective way to recruit and retain nurses in rural areas is to educate them where they live. Distance education (DE) was an effective means of educating nursing students in rural areas. Enhanced technology revolutionized DE and allowed expansion of an already effective nursing education program to a rural area. Collaborative partnerships  helped to address the interdependent needs of academia, service, and the community.,

Conclusions: This partnership demonstrated a cost-effective way to provide affordable baccalaureate education in rural areas and enhance the mission of a state university system to serve its citizens. This project illustrated how leaders prepared at the PhD and DNP levels  in nursing education can collaborate to lead change within a complex state university system.