Moravian College

Posted on May 1, 2010

RN to BS Program- St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing

Since 1981, Newcombe Foundation has partnered with Moravian College, a small, liberal arts college in Bethlehem, PA, to provide scholarship funds to mature women seeking to further their education. The college’s Comenius Center, named for John Amos Comenius, whose followers founded the school in 1742, is devoted to providing evening and weekend graduate, professional and continuing studies for adults. In addition to identifying and meeting the specific needs of adult students, the Comenius Center offers an in-depth experience that balances the teaching of theory with building practical skills. In response to the need among RNs, many of them mature women, to earn a bachelor’s degree to maintain employment, Moravian has joined with St. Luke’s Hospital to offer a vital educational opportunity to nurses. The Newcombe Foundation celebrates Moravian’s commitment to the continuing education needs of Mature Students through this creative endeavor.

In response to the growing trend that requires nurses employed by hospitals to have a bachelor’s degree, St. Luke’s Hospital and Moravian College’s Comenius Center formed a unique partnership in education and launched a RN baccalaureate degree completion program.

The RN to BS program is designed to deliver the highest quality baccalaureate nursing education to Registered Nurses (RNs) in a flexible format so that they can attend classes and fulfill curricular requirements without sacrificing their important work-life and personal commitments.

Special features of the program include:

  • All required courses are designed so that they are relevant to the learning needs of adult students. General education requirements are the same as those for other Comenius Center adult students. Nursing courses are specially designed to complement prior coursework and relevant work experience.
  • Prospective RN-BS students are accepted as baccalaureate-degree candidates while completing their general education requirements and nursing prerequisite courses. This allows qualified students to begin taking courses at their earliest convenience.
  • Students may choose from a variety of courses that fulfill their general education requirements through Comenius Center course offerings.
  • Students may enroll in any Comenius Center courses and RN nursing courses during dates and times that fit their personal schedules, so long as they meet the course prerequisite requirements.
  • Another example of how the program offers flexibility to returning students is the exemption from clinical clock-hour requirements. Because students are already registered, practicing nurses, they are assigned project hours to complete under the direction of a preceptor in select nursing courses. These projects provide meaningful, career-enhancing opportunities for students.
  • In addition to being able to transfer prior course work for general education requirements, students are also awarded six credits for their RN licensure in accordance with the Pennsylvania articulation model for advancing nurses to a higher education level.

Registered nurses from St. Luke's Hospital

Registered nurses from St. Luke’s Hospital who are working toward a BSN degree at Moravian College meet with Dawn Goodolf, the RN-BS program coordinator.

A Moravian College baccalaureate degree requires thirty-two course units (128 credits) of study. For the RN-BS program, course units are grouped into general education courses, nursing major core courses, cognate courses and general elective courses. The nursing major core courses provide a strong foundation in the discipline. They include an analysis of healthcare and nursing culture, holistic assessment, experiencing nursing roles in vulnerable populations, evidence-based clinical practice, and the nurse as an emerging leader.

Dawn Goodolf, a member of the School of Nursing faculty, coordinates the RN-BS program. Ms. Goodolf is responsible for recruiting students into the program and serves as their academic advisor once they have enrolled. “I am in contact with the students from their first inquiry about the program, through the application process and for the duration of their studies,” says Goodolf. “In addition to advising them academically, I help them define and focus their goals and career plan, and understand what is available should they want to further their education beyond a bachelor’s degree.” Students also receive assistance in determining how to finance their education, including securing need-based aid and scholarships, and setting up corporate tuition reimbursement and deferred payment plans.

The program has seen steady growth over the past few years and currently has over eighty students enrolled. “Our partnership with St. Luke’s Hospital is phenomenal,” says Goodolf. “We are now looking to expand our recruitment efforts into the greater Lehigh Valley area and parts of New Jersey.” St. Luke’s Hospital and Moravian College are proud to be partners in educating nurses for the future who are intellectually, culturally, and professionally well grounded.

Additional information about the RN-BS program at Moravian College can be found at

Information about St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network can be found at