With a critical shortage of nurses predicted by 2025, a nationwide initiative began encouraging nurses with associate degrees to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by 2020. The shortage is expected to hit the state of Arizona particularly hard, which led Northern Arizona University (NAU) to find new ways to combat this issue. As a solution to the expected nursing shortage, NAU created a Personalized Learning program, an online competency-based program that allows students to work and progress at their own rate. The program is designed to fit into the schedules of working professionals, with a learning platform centered around real-world career knowledge to build on already mastered experiences.

Laura Blank, associate clinical professor and faculty mentor in the NAU School of Nursing, tells News.NAU.edu, “Arizona is predicted to take the biggest hit with 28,100 fewer nurses than necessary. One reason for this shortage is lack of nursing faculty.”

This degree became the perfect option for Danielle Cox, a charge nurse who already had 5 years of working experience in the field. Cox’s family attended NAU and she wanted to follow in their footsteps by going back to nursing school there but her 12-hour graveyard shifts in the ICU at Flagstaff Medical Center made it impossible for her to earn a BSN without quitting her full-time job.

She began looking for other ways to obtain her degree and found NAU’s Personalized Learning program. Cox explains how it became the perfect program her for: “I was able to work my stretch of night shifts and then dedicate my days off to school. Having no deadlines or due dates made going to school while working simple.” She also just became the first Personalized Learning student to graduate from the RN-to-BSN program this semester after completing the 33 credits she needed for her degree in less than six months. Now she plans to pursue her master’s degree in nursing and possibly start teaching.

Thanks to NAU’s Personalized Learning program, Arizona is now one step closer to combatting the shortage of nurses expected to soon hit the state. To learn more about the program, visit here.

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