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Flexible program helps nurses finish their nursing degrees

Both Angela Wech and Corbin King already have associate degrees in nursing from Chippewa Valley Technical College but both enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's College of Nursing and Health Sciences program to get a bachelor's degree in nursing. 

The BSN@HOME program allowed Wech and King to complete the majority of the course work online, making it possible for them to continue to work full time at area hospitals. 

The program is available through the nursing programs at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and UW Oshkosh. Each campus develops and shares different online courses. Some of the campuses also offer courses on campus and via distance technologies.

Since many of the classes are online, students can work on the course work any time that is convenient for them and can take the classes part time or full time, said Lorraine Smith, senior student services coordinator at UW-Eau Claire and the statewide BSN@HOME program director.

The program helps students like King, who is employed full time as a nurse at a hospital.

"I don't know how I would have obtained my bachelor's degree without this program which allowed me to work and access the classes on my own time," said King, who graduated in 2010.

The program also helps students who apply to but are unable to get into the UW-Eau Claire nursing program.

King applied to the UW-Eau Claire nursing program in 2007 but was one of 120 students vying for 40 openings in the program so wasn't able to get into the program. Through a collaborative agreement with the Chippewa Valley Nursing Alliance, King was admitted to the associate degree nursing program at Chippewa Valley Technical College and continued to take general education classes at UW-Eau Claire.

He completed four semesters at CVTC, graduated with his associate degree in nursing and passed the nursing board examination. He was hired as a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital in the emergency department but still wanted his bachelor's degree.

"I knew there would be more opportunities for advancement if I got my BSN," King said. "So while I was still young and in school mode I decided to keep going for my bachelor's degree."  

Wech came to UW-Eau Claire to pursue a nursing degree but was also interested in psychology. Not sure which career path to follow, she decided to do both. 

Wech completed a bachelor's degree in psychology in 2006 and then enrolled in the nursing program at Chippewa Valley Technical College, completed her associate degree in 2007 and was hired in January 2008 at Luther Hospital as a medical telemetry and intermediate care nurse. 

Like King, Wech also wanted to earn a BSN.

"I had this drive to finish what I started," said Wech, who graduated with her UW-Eau Claire nursing degree in 2010. "Getting a BSN was my goal when I came to college. I just took a roundabout way to get it."