UTulsa welcomes online nursing students for ABSN skills boot camp - The University of Tulsa
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UTulsa welcomes online nursing students for ABSN skills boot camp

A look at the ABSN skills boot camp

One way that The University of Tulsa is meeting the nation’s demand for qualified health care workers is through its new online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. It’s built specifically for working professionals and adult learners with bachelor’s degrees in a non-nursing field who want to transition to a nursing career quickly.

For the first time, ABSN students from all over the nation met in downtown Tulsa at UTulsa’s Oxley College of Health & Natural Sciences for the inaugural skills boot camp, which ran from May 13 through 17.

“This is an action-packed skills camp,” said Cassy Eng, director of online programs for UTulsa’s School of Nursing. “The students come for one week to learn all of the skills required for that springboard into the clinical setting.”

During the week, students learned and practiced a long list of skills they must know for clinical placement. This included sterile technique, vital signs, nasogastric tube insertion, Foley catheter placement, IV insertion, and much more.

“The beauty of it is, we have 50 years of success for our campus-based nursing program,” Eng said. “We’re replicating that for the online student and condensing all of that experience that the on-ground student gets.”

The cohort mainly is composed of students from Oklahoma and Texas but includes those from as far away as New Hampshire. With an average age of 33, Eng explained that these ABSN online students are strong and motivated, each with a unique background and reason for enrolling in the program.

“We have teachers, we have a chiropractor, we have people coming from a variety of scenarios,” said Eng. “Now we get to meet and put a face to a name and a story, and that’s the really cool part about this.”

Nursing student Sierra Gillian lives in Norman, Oklahoma. Although the skills boot camp is challenging, she’s enjoying the ABSN program because it’s accelerated and allows her to work full time while earning her nursing degree.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field. I wanted to be a doctor but had a little bit of a change in plans,” Gillian said, “I found this program online, decided to do it, and I’m very glad that I did.”

Her dream job? Gillian says she wants to become a pediatric nurse practitioner because she loves working with children.

School of Nursing leaders worked tirelessly to expand the network of hospitals for clinical placements across the country, allowing online students to be placed at a hospital near their homes.

“Not a lot of players are in this space, so we’re proud to be one of them, bringing a strong offering to the online student,” Eng said.

UTulsa’s online ABSN program takes 18 months to complete. The weeks before the ABSN skills boot camp were filled with studying and testing. Now that the boot camp has concluded, students springboard right into their clinical experience wherever they call home.

“Some of these students live in rural areas,” Eng explained, “and it’s helping us to create opportunities for providers in underserved and unserved populations. So it’s really improving the canvas of health care by offering this.”

Some ABSN students are already working in health care and are ready to advance their careers. Nursing student McKenzie Carney worked as a nurse tech for four years and says she’s excited for her future as a nurse.

“Everyone has been super helpful and has been really willing to teach us skills and work on it with us until we really get it down,” Carney said. “It’s been great.”

UTulsa’s full-time nursing faculty hosts the boot camp, giving ABSN online program students a similar experience to that of campus-based students. “We want the student, when they leave on Friday, to feel like they have been immersed, and feel like they’re part of that TU family,” Eng said.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ABSN program, visit online.utulsa.edu/programs/undergraduate-degrees/accelerated-bsn/