RSU Nursing Program Celebrates 40 Years of Excellence

nursing students in lab

The nursing program at Rogers State University is celebrating 40 years of educating the next generation of healthcare workers since the program’s inception in 1981, and the Rogers State University Alumni Association will mark the anniversary by inviting program graduates back to campus.

“Our nursing programs have always and will continue to provide students throughout the region with the best education and training, which produces professionals who demonstrate safe patient practice while applying clinical reasoning to health promotion and disease prevention,” Dr. Susan Willis, dean of the school of professional studies, said.

The inaugural nursing class graduated in 1983, and since then, the program and its renowned faculty have received national recognition for high-quality programs, leadership in improving patient outcomes in Oklahoma hospitals, and commitment to educating seasoned nurses with additional degrees and certifications.

“Our nursing program has been such an integral part of education here on the hill. You won’t find a local healthcare provider that doesn’t have RSU alumni on their staff,” Alumni Director Travis Peck said. “Local clinics to the largest hospitals in the region know the quality of students that come from RSU.”

Dr. Carla Lynch, department head and professor for the department of health sciences, credits the faculty’s hard work and student-centered approach for all the department has achieved in 40 years. 

“I’m very proud of the way our department has grown” Dr. Lynch said.  “Our students receive a high-quality education through our student-focused approach, creating a supportive learning environment that cultivates student success. Our faculty are national leaders, and they are truly passionate about their field, which makes them great educators and advocates of exceptional patient care.”

Upon graduation, RSU nurses have some of the highest NCLEX scores in the nation. These outcomes are credited to a rigorous curriculum and hands-on learning.

“Coupling high-tech simulations with real world hospital partnerships at area facilities, students develop critical thinking and diagnostic reasoning skills that are incredibly important as they prepare to care for real patients,” Dr. Lynch said. “Further, the nursing program uses state of the art testing software to ensure that students are NCLEX-ready upon graduation.”

Alumna Lisa Martin was part of the inaugural nursing graduating class in 1983, previously known as Rogers State College. She spent her initial career in the field as an emergency room nurse, in the cardiac ICU, and as a nurse in Claremore Public Schools. She returned to her alma mater in 2004 to care for students, faculty and staff as the director of the student health center.

“It was an exciting time to be part of the inaugural nursing class at RSU. Forty years later, nurses are still being trained by dedicated faculty who cared for us personally and professionally,” Martin said. “Charting was different back then, but medical excellence remains the same. RSU nurses graduate and are ready to excel in their field, while also providing exceptional patient care.”

This year the RSU Foundation raised $135,000 to renovate the lecture hall located in Room 135 of the Health Sciences Building. The renovation project included new in-floor electrical wiring, replacement floor coverings, movable classroom tables with electrical and USB data ports, and new chairs. The classroom unveiling celebration will be held later this month.

“Through the years we have seen a need for a more flexible learning environment,” Dr. Lynch said. “RSU’s partners and donors have generously supported our programs and allowed us to adapt to meet the nursing needs in our community. We are so grateful.”

The RSU department of health sciences offers a traditional BSN in nursing, the RN2BSN online and the bridge to traditional BSN entry, for LPNs or paramedics to earn their BSN, as well as allied health sciences options, including pre-athletic training, pre-physical therapy and pre-occupational therapy. The MBA program at RSU now offers a concentration in health care management.

The nursing alumni reunion and celebration will be held Sept. 29 from 4-9 p.m. in the Health Sciences building on the Claremore campus. All former graduates and their families are invited to attend this momentous occasion. The classroom unveiling celebration will be held the following day, Sept. 30 at 4:30 p.m.

RSU is poised to continue building a legacy of compassionate and virtuous nurses who advocate for their patients and serve the community for years to come. For more information about RSU’s nursing programs, visit