3,000th Student Graduates from UL Lafayette RN to BSN online program

Written byHope Aucoin


In 2012, the University of Louisiana enrolled its first class of online RN to BSN students – the first undergraduate online students in the University’s history.  In Fall 2023, the program celebrated another milestone as the 3,000th RN to BSN graduate crossed the Commencement stage. 

“This is huge for us,” said Dr. Lisa Broussard, interim dean for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. 

“We’re not some new program that just popped up. We’ve been here a long time, and we’re going to continue to put out these graduates. Every single person who graduates from this college is very, very important to us.” 

Advancing nursing practice 

Registered nurses can earn their license after completing an associate in nursing program. In 2010, the National Academy of Medicine released a report recommending the industry increase the number of RNs with a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020. According to the report, BSN-prepared nurses are better equipped to handle increasingly complex patient care.  

The University’s program was a direct response to that report.  

“We had the support of the Office of Distance Learning and years of experience offering online educational content through our graduate nursing education programs.”  

Providing the program online, said Dr. Broussard, was essential to creating a pathway for working RNs and to reaching students beyond Acadiana. Since the program’s inception, students have enrolled from 42 states across the U.S. 

“At least 90 percent of our RN to BSN students are working, and most of them are working full time,” she said. “They can’t be at a certain class, at a certain time. Online, asynchronous courses are critical for them to be able to complete their degrees.” 

Brandy Sizemore, of Lafayette, will be among those earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree this semester. As an RN to BSN student, Sizemore balanced nursing as well as life with twin 6-year-old girls. 

“It has been challenging, but I'm so grateful that I did it,” she said.  

After 16 years as an RN, Sizemore was well-versed in patient care. Earning a BSN degree, she said, gave her insight into healthcare advancements and nursing leadership.  

“I didn't realize how much it would benefit me,” she said. “I've learned a lot on the leadership and management side that I didn't get with an associate degree. We also learned a lot about innovation, like informatics, which is super important." 

Tara Horsley, RN to BSN program coordinator, said the goal of the program is to provide a multi-faceted approach to professional growth and development. 

“We give a little bit of everything to our students’ professional growth,” she said. “We give a little bit of ethics, evidence-based practice, and leadership skills, which is something the associate degree nurse doesn’t necessarily learn in depth.” 

Horsley is among the faculty who teach in the online RN to BSN program. UL Lafayette is unique in that faculty teaching in the program only teach RN to BSN students.  

“What makes our program stand out is definitely the faculty,” Dr. Broussard said. “Our faculty only teach in this program, so that truly makes them experts in understanding the needs of this student population, which is very unique.” 

That was evident for Sizemore. 

“The instructors are very responsive,” she said. “If you have any kind of questions, any kind of problems, they will hop on a Zoom call. They know we are working people with families, and they’re like, ‘OK, you want to do this, I will help you succeed.’” 

As the program moves forward in its second decade, Dr. Broussard expects the program to continue to evolve with new technological advancements, student feedback and industry demands.  

“As an administration, we’re going to be looking at the impact of machine learning, the trends in healthcare, looking at what the job market really needs, and listening to student feedback on what’s working and what’s not working,” she said. “You always want to continue to evolve.”