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CONTACT: DEREK MAURER
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8037; fax (319) 335-8034
e-mail: derek-maurer@uiowa.edu

Release: Immediate

Editors: One or more of the students in this important University of Iowa degree program lives in your readership area. Each is a registered nurse committed to obtaining additional skills and qualifications while continuing to practice nursing in her or his community. Participants are listed alphabetically by hometown, with contact information, following this text.

Bachelors' degree program for registered nurses doubles in size

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Back to school" took on special meaning for about 130 Iowa nurses who recently began studying to enhance their knowledge and skills.

They are students in the University of Iowa College of Nursing's RN-BSN program, which allows registered nurses to earn bachelor's degrees in nursing by attending classes one day a week while they continue working. The program's one-day-a-week schedule-new this year-is designed to accommodate working nurses' professional and personal obligations.

The new group of students began meeting May 20, and with 130 members it is nearly double the size of last year's group. The program's accommodating schedule and flexible supporting coursework requirements are one reason for the growth, and improved efforts to publicize it are another, according to Kathy Keasler of the program's professional staff. But changes in health care and the nursing profession are the chief reason nurses seek the added skills and qualifications that a bachelor of science degree represents.

Traditionally, most nurses provided bedside care in hospitals, nursing homes and schools, according to RN-BSN program director Keela Herr, Ph.D., an associate professor of nursing at the UI. Now, Herr said, "professional nurses are expected to take increasing responsibility for the care patients receive, with many managing care for individuals and groups in the community, coordinating multidisciplinary health care teams, serving in leadership roles in public and private health care organizations and even establishing practices and businesses of their own to address unmet health care needs."

Increased responsibilities call for skills beyond those usually taught in two-year associate degree nursing programs, Keasler said. So in addition to skills in health assessment and clinical decision-making, the RN-BSN program includes coursework in community health, research utilization and nursing leadership and management. The RN-BSN program also serves as a gateway for those nurses who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in nursing. More than half the new RN-BSN students receive their instruction at community colleges in Fort Dodge, Mason City and Spencer, with the remainder attending classes in Iowa City. Students participate in lectures and other activities originating at the College of Nursing in Iowa City via the fiber optic Iowa Communications Network. All students work directly with a UI faculty member who either has office space at the nursing college or receives office space and other support from the local community college.

"The quality of instruction wouldn't be possible without faculty members right there to interact with students and provide guidance and feedback," Herr said. "At the same time, the ICN lets us make more of the college's resources available to the students at each of the different locations."

There are more than 32,000 registered nurses in Iowa, but only a quarter of them hold bachelor's degrees or higher, Herr said.

For more information about the RN-BSN program, call Kathy Keasler at (319) 335-7020 or e-mail her at <kathy-keasler@uiowa.edu>. Keela Herr can be reached by phone at (319) 335-7080, and by e-mail at <keela-herr@uiowa.edu>.

 IOWA

 Arnolds Park Lorrie Nonneman, (712) 332-5154
 Birmingham Sileen Heston, (319) 498-4626
 Bradgate Phyllis Warren, (515) 375-6738
 Burlington Barbara Black, (319) 754-9427; Tonya Crone, (319) 753-0508; Julie Hensley, (319) 752-0394
 Carroll Margaret Buman, (712) 792-9514; Denise Higgins, (712) 792-4017
 Cedar Rapids Mary Jo Henry, (319) 396-4402
 Clarion Mariel DeMuth, (515) 532-2417
 Clear Lake Nicole Andrews, (515) 357-1634; Heidi Metz, (515) 357-7828
 Coralville Audrey Lewis, (319) 358-9152; Eric Vigil, (319) 354-1314
 Emmetsburg Mary Kay Nissen, (712) 852-2196
 Fort Dodge Andrea Birchall, (515) 573-8539; Susan Maschino, (515) 955-2173
 Gowrie Kimberly Albright, (515) 268-9982
 Hartley Diane Dondersloot, (712) 728-3506; Ruth Hobson, (712) 728-2310
 Hull Paula Meendering, (712) 722-3813
 Humboldt Jill Duffy, (515) 332-4706
 Iowa City Pam Gedney, (319) 356-6242; Marge Jensen, (319) 354-6733; Laura Knosp, (319) 337-4865; Tiffany Olswold, (319) 338-7359; Monica Smith, (319) 339-0514; Theresa Soukup, (319) 358-6838
 Larrabee Carey Ducommun, (712) 437-2565
 Manly Margo Neel, (515) 454-2437
 Mason City Janet Borchardt, (515) 422-0331; Mica Harris, (515) 424-9249; Stacey Hubbard, (515) 424-6038; C. Dawn Jacobson, (515) 424-8269; Rita Larson, (515) 424-9354; Angela Lundberg, (515) 422-0716; Judi Nelson, (515) 423-3450; Sharon Peterson, (515) 423-6109; Kathy Ramker, (515) 421-1890; Pamela Schwartz, (515) 424-0082
 Melbourne Patrick Whitmore, (515) 754-5004
 Milford Maxine Anderson, (712) 338-2272
 Mount Auburn Anna Readnour, (319) 475-2293
 Nora Springs Alice Kaasa, (515) 749-2203
 North Liberty Kristen Flack, (319) 626-3984; Mike and Pat Nelson, (319) 626-6390
 Remsen Charlotte Braun, (712) 376-4706; Sue Sievers, (712) 786-1522
 Ringsted Lela Kruse, (712) 866-1214
 Rippey Lori DeMoss, (515) 738-2543
 Rockwell Carrie Brown, (515) 822-4975
 Sac City Chris Irwin, (712) 662-3245
 Sheffield Shari Showalter
 Sibley Shari Block, (712) 754-3429
 Solon Patty O'Brien, (319) 644-3310
 Spencer Katherine Johnson, (712) 262-4282
 Spirit Lake Cynthia Shipley, (712) 336-0707
 Stacyville Denise Mayer, (515) 737-2507
 Thompson Joan Krull, (515) 584-2996
 Tiffin Marilyn Meyer, (319) 645-2877
 Ventura Sandra Lauen, (515) 829-4402
 West Des Moines Sarah Monroe, (515) 267-8278

7/23/98