BGSU alumna leverages flexibility of online RN to BSN program to earn degree while living overseas

A U.S. Air Force service member spouse and Bowling Green State University alumna is praising the University’s 100% online RN to BSN program for allowing her the flexibility to earn a degree while living overseas and achieve her dream of working in pediatric nursing.

Audra Rudolph ’22 enrolled in the university’s program in 2020, inspired by her husband, Adam, who graduated from BGSU in 2013. Adam serves as a section chief at the NATO Aircrew Training Squadron at the Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base in Germany.

BGSU is ranked No. 2 in the nation – and No. 1 in the Midwest – for veterans and active military students by Military Times.

“He could not speak highly enough about BGSU,” Rudolph said. “Once I started to look into the RN to BSN program, it seemed absolutely perfect for what I needed. Getting my bachelor’s degree in nursing was always part of the plan, I just didn’t think I’d do it while living in Germany.”

Balancing coursework, family responsibilities

Rudolph, the first student to complete the program while living internationally, juggled coursework with homeschooling her daughter and caring for her twin boys, both toddlers.

Dr. Lara Wilken, RN to BSN program coordinator, said the quality of Rudolph’s work never hinted at the fact that she was adjusting to life in a new country during a pandemic.

“I would have never known everything going on in her life. She always went above and beyond,” Wilken said. “I think part of that was because of her commitment and dedication to pursuing an advanced degree and understanding the value of having a BSN degree.”

Despite the seven-hour time difference between Germany and Ohio, Rudolph said there was never a time when a question was left unanswered. She recalled receiving responses around 10 a.m., about 3 a.m. in Ohio.

“My experience at BGSU was absolutely amazing,” Rudolph said. “I have gone to many colleges, and the faculty and staff at BGSU are stellar. They always considered the time difference and were always willing to help.”

BGSU began its fully online RN to BSN program in the School of Nursing in 2019 in response to workforce demands and to provide working nurses with the flexibility to continue their education.

The program is designed to improve leadership and clinical judgment skills and also emphasizes evidence-based practice.

Registered nurses, already trained and knowledgeable in the clinical aspects of the job, learn the rationale of those decisions, which is proven to improve patient care and outcomes.

In addition to convenience, the program’s online format is beneficial for preparing students for careers in the growing field of telehealth.

The RN to BSN program prioritizes student support, with faculty and staff deeply committed to helping students succeed.

BGSU is the only public university in Ohio to earn the Quality Matters Online Learner Support certificate for all of its online programs — differentiating the University’s RN to BSN program from other online nursing degree programs.

All student and academic services are fully accommodated online, including accessing the University Libraries materials, academic advising and remote sessions for technical support.

“In an online environment, it’s important to ensure our students don’t feel like they’re on their own,” Wilken said. “When evaluating the overall program, students repeatedly state that they have felt more connected to their professors in this online environment than any other program.”

Community-focused healthcare

As part of the curriculum, students complete a capstone course that requires them to educate a community or population of interest using what they’ve learned in the program.

Dr. Nicki Lawrence, BSN curriculum coordinator and assistant clinical professor, said students identify and assess the needs of a community, conduct research and then address the needs through education.

Rudolph focused her capstone project on educating staff members of the international school where she worked on critical emergency procedures.

“She educated them on several life-saving measures and outlined processes to follow in an emergency,” Lawrence said. “It was a very meaningful teaching project. I admired her dedication to the project and also her drive to become a BSN-prepared nursing leader and make a difference in the world.”

Rudolph now works as an elementary school nurse at AFNORTH International School in Brunssum, Netherlands, where her three children attend school.

“When I dreamed of working in pediatrics, I never thought it’d be as a school nurse,” Rudolph said. “This has been a perfect fit for where we are right now.”