History in the Making

Siena Heights Welcomes First Nursing Students to Campus


Members of Siena Heights University's first RN to BSN degree completion class attended their first class Aug. 25 in the Nursing and Health Science Building.

History in the Making

The first day of classes is always eventful, but this year it was also historical at Siena Heights University.

After more than a year of planning and preparation, Siena Heights welcomed its first nursing students to campus Aug. 25. Nineteen students – all women – became part of Siena Heights history by attending the “Transition to Professional Nursing” class in the new Nursing and Health Science Building. They are part of the inaugural class of Siena’s new RN to BSN degree completion program.

“The 19 women who started class today all work in health care facilities either in Lenawee County or a surrounding county,” said SHU Director of Nursing Dr. Sue Idczak. “They are entrusting their education to Siena Heights. It’s a huge day because it’s the first day a nursing class will ever be taught on this campus. We’re living history as it’s happening.”

Before class, students were treated to lunch in the meeting area of the facility, which used to house middle school students at St. Joseph Academy before Siena Heights leased the facility from SJA this summer. To mark the occasion, Siena Heights President Sister Peg Albert and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sister Sharon Weber both joined the group for lunch and briefly addressed the students.

While the class includes nurses of different experience levels and backgrounds, there were some common themes that attracted them to Siena’s new program.

Adrian’s Denice Osworth, who is starting the program with sisters-in-law and fellow RNs Jennifer Osworth and April Klann, said location, convenience and class delivery were major factors in their decision to enroll in the program.

“I think we’ve all talked about (going back to school) over the last 9-10 years,” said Osworth, who is a school nurse for an elementary school in Tecumseh. “Then we got the flyer and it was a little intriguing. So I called (Jennifer and April) and said, ‘Does anybody want to go (to the informational meeting)?’ Nobody was available, but I thought, ‘I’m just going to go and find out and see what it’s about.’ ”

With many of the classes offered in a “blended” format, meaning classes are conducted both online and in the classroom, it allowed students such as Osworth the flexibility to balance class with family responsibilities. Idczak said that was the plan when designing the program.

“They will have class here in the building one day a week,” she said. “It will be on Mondays, so they will have time to plan.”

Jennifer Osworth, who works as a nurse at the University of Michigan along with Klann, said she also sees where the profession is heading.

“Some hospitals are moving towards having all their nurses having a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “Currently UM is not one of them, but in five or six years, it could be a different story. … And if any one of us were to ever move and work for another hospital, it may be a requirement there. We figure it couldn’t hurt our careers.”

“I think we all kind of saw that there is going to be a need (for a four-year degree) coming down the road,” Denice Osworth said. It’s going to be expected, and it’s going to be harder to complete it (later). So we had better do it now.”

Dr. Idczak, who observed the first class session from a chair in the back of the classroom, said it was rewarding to see the program come to fruition. The inaugural class has a scheduled graduation date of winter 2010.

“You dream and you plan and you send proposals out,” she said, “and then to actually see it fulfilled is just a dream come true.”


Gail Ryder (above) instructs the first RN to BSN class, "Transition to Professional Nursing." The class meets one time a week.





Meet Siena


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Alyssa Fausneaucht

Sport Management Major, Women's Golf; Adrian Campus

Faculty & Staff

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Gail A. Ryder

Associate Professor of Humanities


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Leslie Keane '01, '12MA

Criminal Justice, Counseling Graduate; Police Officer and Counselor at Parkside Family Counseling