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First RN to BSN class marks a new start in college’s history

Hesston College's first class of RN to BSN students

Aside from the start of spring semester classes for all students, Wednesday, January 11, 2017, marked a historic day at Hesston College as 27 students gathered in Lemons Center 1 as the first group of nurses in the college’s new RN to BSN program.

“We as faculty and staff are very excited about officially launching our RN to BSN program today,” said Bonnie Sowers, director of Nursing Education. “The start of this program is a historic moment for Hesston College Nursing and the college in general as we are able to serve students in new ways.”

None of the students are new to Hesston College – all 27 just happen to have previously graduated from Hesston’s associate degree nursing program (ADN) and have returned to take the next step in their education and professional development.

“Today truly feels like a family reunion – with new opportunities to reconnect with our amazing nursing alumni,” said Sowers. “The spirit in our department is positive and our graduates’ excitement about starting this next step in their professional journey is palpable. We are grateful for God’s continual leading and presence within our nursing program.”

While most of the students are local to south central Kansas, one student believes so much in Hesston’s nursing program that she will make a monthly three-hour commute from the Kansas City area.

“Bonnie and the rest of the faculty take a genuine interest in their students and go the extra mile to make sure we have everything we need,” said Amy Jantz, who graduated from Hesston with her ADN in 2006 and now works as an RN at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. “My experience here the first time was wonderful, so when I heard I could finish my bachelor’s here as well, it was an easy decision.”

Jantz said the nursing industry’s shift to requiring RNs to have a bachelor’s degree is becoming increasingly prevalent in the Kansas City metro area. While she could have had her choice of RN to BSN programs in closer proximity or programs that operate completely online, Jantz decided Hesston’s value-added program was worth the commute.

“People here truly care,” said Jantz. “They know your name and your story and they are committed to seeing you succeed. It’s also good to be able to integrate with the rest of the class face-to-face on a regular basis – to get to know them. It’s harder to have online discussions or do group work when you don’t know the other people or even what they look like.”

Hesston’s RN to BSN program is a hybrid that meets both online and on campus. Students who are enrolled full time meet on campus for a full day twice a month, and part-time students meet one full day on campus each month. Full-time students are on a one year completion track, while part time students will complete the program in two years.

Hesston launched the bachelor of science in nursing program in Fall 2015 in response to industry goals that 80 percent of RNs have a BSN by 2020. New RN to BSN classes will start at Hesston every January.