The University of Oklahoma College of Nursing is ranked as one of the best online advanced degree nursing programs for 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
“We strive to provide an exceptional learning environment at the OU College of Nursing,” said Dean Lazelle Benefield, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN. “Online programs, extraordinary faculty, and outstanding clinical partnerships anchor our efforts to help students achieve their goals in nursing, to advance research, and to meet the growing need for exceptional nursing professionals in a variety of health care environments. It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by U.S. News and World Report for our efforts in online nursing education.”
According to U.S. News, the rankings are determined by student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, student services and technologies, and admissions selectivity. This is the third year the publication has ranked online programs.
“We are very proud of the online programs we are able to offer at the OU College of Nursing,” said Gary Loving, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean. “Currently, we have several online degree programs including Masters of Nursing Education, Doctor of Nursing Practice and PhD in Nursing. The online programs allow for great flexibility for students to better meet their individual needs as they work toward advanced degrees in nursing. For example, our Masters of Nursing Education program allows for multiple starting points for students."
Under Loving's leadership, the college has utilized technology to provide distance learning opportunities for about 25 years. The college's online program offers a choice of part-time or full-time progression, and students are eligible to compete for merit-based scholarships.
“The College of Nursing has highly trained faculty, and our students have the opportunity to engage with peers and faculty both in person and online while obtaining their degree,” said Loving.
Benefield said that the college’s online educational programs were created to help address the critical shortage of baccalaureate-prepared and advanced practice nurses in hospitals, clinics, schools and home care agencies across Oklahoma.
“To address this shortage, we must first address the root cause, and that is a shortage of qualified faculty ready to educate the next generation of nurses,” Benefield said.
Toward that end, she explained the OU College of Nursing launched two of its online programs. These include - the PhD in Nursing program, the first in the state, which prepares graduates for roles in the academic world helping train the next generation of nurses, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, which prepares advanced practice nurses to meet the primary healthcare needs of Oklahomans.
“By making these programs available online, we exponentially expand access to the rich educational and scientific resources of our college and the OU Health Sciences Center for nursing students across Oklahoma, regardless of their physical location,” said Benefield.