On Monday, Angela Welch will be back in school. The director of the emergency department at Ransom Memorial Health, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, will be among the first students to begin the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at Ottawa University.

For the Spring 2 term that starts Monday, Ottawa is offering the master’s program for nurses who have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The online program is designed to make it easier for nurses to earn their degree quickly and on a timetable that fits their busy schedule.

For Welch, the program gives her the opportunity to continue her education in a program that will be relevant to her position at the hospital.

“There are 12 classes that are required for the master’s program in nursing and all of them focus on advanced concepts including advanced concepts in leadership,” she said. “With me being the director of the emergency department, each of those classes will enhance my knowledge not only personally but professionally for the hospital as well. As nursing continues to change and as medical needs continue to advance, eventually my job will require a master’s degree and at this point since I am already used to doing school and used to their program, I decided to go ahead and get it done while I had the opportunity.”

The program offers the choice of either a Nurse Educator Specialization or the Nurse Leadership Specialization path. Either can be completed in as little as 18 months and requires 36 credit hours of coursework.

“As advances in our healthcare system continue to improve and enhance the quality of life and life expectancy, there is a critical need to increase nurse educators as well as further educate and prepare upcoming leaders in our industry,” said Kathy Kump, director of nursing at OU.

“This MSN program at Ottawa University will give nurses the tools necessary to produce future nurse leaders in health care, both in the classroom and within a diverse array of health care organizations.”

Welch is a strong believer in the Ottawa nursing program. She worked as a nurse at the associate level for Overland Park Regional Medical Center for 12 years before accepting a position in her hometown of Ottawa.

“I really enjoyed coming back to my community,” she said. “I had commuted to Kansas City for many, many years and had the opportunity to come back home. It was a good transition for my family and for myself and to get back in the school arena as well. I had chose to work at an associate level nurse but took a management job here at Ransom Memorial, I knew I had to start working on my bachelor’s degree.”

Welch looked at a few programs but settled on the online course through Ottawa University and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2017.

Nurses who choose to specialize in nurse education will take courses that focus on teaching strategies, curriculum design and instructional technology. Those students who specialize in nurse leadership will examine legal and ethical issues faced by nurse leaders, the components of healthcare information systems and critical business acumen needed by nurse leaders. Both specializations require a practicum and capstone project. In both education paths, students will explore topics of improving quality and safety, cultural diversity, policy and advocacy within population health.

Welch is excited to get started in the program and she said one of the biggest factors was how much she enjoyed the bachelor’s of nursing program. She said the MSN program is similar in that she will have the same mentors with the same set up and schedule. She said the consistency is a plus.

“I want to reiterate how wonderful the bachelor’s program was,” she said. “I wouldn’t continue on with a school that I did not enjoy getting my previous degree with. Every person I have come across in the nursing program has been very willing to answer questions, available at any time and are very engaged in their students learning. It may be a little bit more expensive than other programs, but I am very comfortable with the people who are teaching me and that they are taking me down the right path. I think OU is the right answer and very lucky to have it in Ottawa.”

OU’s bachelor’s of nursing program began in 2013 and has since produced graduates across the country that have gone on to make a significant impact in not only their community but also the industry as a whole, according to a university news release.

More information about the MSN program and information on how to apply can be found at www.ottawa.edu/msn