Document Type


Publication Date


Date of Final Presentation


Committee Chair

Dr. Kim Martz

Committee Member

Dr. Sara Ahten

Coordinator/ Chair of DNP Program

Dr. Pam Strohfus

Abstract/ Executive Summary

Background: Nursing students living in rural areas often encounter barriers, real or perceived, to receiving education. These students may be unable to leave home to obtain higher education due to expectations, financial issues, and geography (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2010), thus contributing to a shortage of qualified nurses in rural communities. Great Basin College (GBC) recently implemented synchronized distance education Synchronized Distance Education (SDE) for the (AAS) nursing program, and there was a need to conduct a program evaluation in order to maintain/improve program quality. One goal of Healthy People 2020 (2014) is improving access to comprehensive, quality healthcare services. Providing educational access to students who live in rural communities is a significant step towards creating and building a rural nursing workforce to meet the demand for increased access to quality healthcare.

Project Design: Program evaluation of a rural AAS nursing program using SDE for quality improvement was conducted. The six domains evaluated were technology; faculty perceptions of benefits, problems, and effectiveness of SDE; faculty training for SDE; student perceptions of benefits, problems, and effectiveness of SDE; student academics; and stakeholders.

Results: Results showed that (a) SDE classrooms effectively used technology 100% of time; (b) students and faculty were satisfied with SDE in the classroom; (c) 100% of AAS nursing faculty attended training specific for SDE; (d) while there was up to a 10.2% difference in group mean scores on exams, the location of students did not appear to be a factor for this difference, as scores were higher on two exams than the previous year; the outcome of 80% of nursing students at all sites passing ATI exams was not successfully met, and (e) information was shared with advisory board members, budget maintained, less than 5% of Nevada’s nurses work in rural areas.

Recommendations: Recommendations include (a) ongoing collaboration with technology staff and technology evaluation in the classroom, (b) review of faculty workload to determine if additional compensation should always be made due to the increased work required when preparing and teaching using SDE, (c) ongoing yearly training and sharing of knowledge and ideas of effective teaching strategies in the SDE classroom, (d) a review of the faculty evaluation policy to determine if there is any impact when teaching courses using SDE versus the traditional classroom, and (e) ongoing communication and collaboration between faculty and students inside and out of the classroom to promote student success at all locations.

Conclusions: The findings of this program evaluation revealed that providing educational opportunities for students in rural locations to become nurses can be successfully accomplished and could work towards creating a rural nursing workforce to meet one of the Healthy People 2020 (2014) goals to improve access to comprehensive, quality healthcare services. This SP can add to the literature supporting the success of students using distance education technologies and offer ideas towards developing new models of educational delivery systems to increase the nursing workforce to care for rural populations nationwide.