The RN-BSN distance education experience: From educational limbo to more than an elusive degree

Kathy L. Rush, Susannah Waldrop, Carol Mitchell, Cathy Dyches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study describes a qualitative study designed to gain an understanding of professional growth as experienced by RN-BSN students taking their program by distance delivery. A convenience sample of senior students enrolled in an RN-BSN program, taking their classes either by live televised broadcast or by online instruction, volunteered to participate in the study. Data were collected through the use of online student discussions that took place over a 2-week period. The discussion was guided by the use of a semistructured interview schedule and facilitated by one member of the research team. Interview questions were posted every 2 to 3 days; additional questions were posted as threads as discussion board comments warranted. RN-BSN students described their pursuit of a BSN as a journey of being and becoming a professional. Although students already felt "professional", the impetus for the journey could be traced to the overriding theme of "falling short as a professional". RN-BSN students described their beginning journey toward the baccalaureate degree as an "educational limbo", out of which they moved with discovery of the RN-BSN distance program. What began as pursuit of an elusive degree that was expected to produce minimal change became more as RN-BSN students evolved as professionals along many dimensions. The implications of these findings for the development and design of curricular and pedagogical approaches to better serve the needs of this unique group of learners will be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Distance education
  • Professional growth
  • RN-BSN students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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