LONGMEADOW — The American Women’s College at Bay Path University celebrated the first graduating class of the RN-to-BSN program this spring, with 22 nurses completing their bachelor’s degrees.
The RN-to-BSN Completer Program allows for licensed, registered nurses with an associate or diploma degree to return to college to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Bay Path’s program is fully online, allowing students to enroll and participate from across the country, and the accelerated format means that, for most students, the degree can be achieved in 18 months.
“We started the program as a result of a national challenge for 80% of nurses to be BSN-prepared by 2020. We went into our local hospitals, Baystate Health and Mercy Medical Center, and formed partnerships with this shared goal in mind,” said Debbie Hatzipetro, now-retired senior director of Health Services Administration and Nursing Programs. “I am so proud of the nurses in our first cohort. The nurses worked very hard in pursuing their degree. Not only did they work hard with their studies, but they also participated in providing ongoing feedback on the courses to help enhance the quality of the program. Many of them have received promotions at work since completing their degree, and some are now considering pursuing higher education. It has been an honor to be surrounded by these dedicated, hard-working women, and for me, this is a great note to retire on.”
The nurses were also honored with a pinning ceremony in late May. This tradition is, for many, more exciting than commencement itself, as it is considered a rite of passage in the nursing field. Pinning ceremonies date back to the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale was honored for her compassionate care of injured soldiers during the Crimean War. Embodying the selfless spirit characteristic of nurses, Nightingale recognized the dedication and efforts of her hardest-working nursing graduates, presenting them each with a medal of excellence. In the U.S., it became common practice by 1916 that all nursing graduates were honored during a ceremony with the presentation of a pin symbolizing their educational accomplishments.
“It was a pleasure to celebrate the success of our class of 2017 graduates from the RN-to-BSN program at Bay Path’s first pinning ceremony,” said Marjorie Bessette, director of the Nursing program. “These women not only work full-time, but they have full-time lives outside of work and college. Yet they completed the rigorous, accelerated program with high honors. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of their experience.”