Meet Rebecca Lee, Program Director for UC’s RN to BSN Online Degree

More than 20 years ago, an encounter with a hospice nurse left an impression on Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Lee, Program Director. That chance encounter inspired her career in nursing, which Becky dedicated her life to.

Becky’s experience working in the nursing field and completing her own Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) influenced her decision to become the director of the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing’s (UC CoN) RN to BSN Online program, designed for registered nurses seeking to enhance their nursing skills to effectively address the needs of diverse populations, collaborate as part of an interprofessional team, implement evidence-based practice interventions to improve patient safety and care quality, and demonstrate leadership in health policy and patient advocacy. 

An Answer to Prayer

During the late 1990s, Becky found herself the single parent of four young boys, wondering what her next move would be. Then her dying grandmother asked her to return “home” to Appalachian Virginia to see her one last time. Becky says:

When I arrived at my grandmother’s bedside, I met her hospice nurse. She had a special way of helping my entire family feel cared for, and I realized this was the answer I’d been looking for. When I returned to Cincinnati, I enrolled in nursing school.

Becky began her studies at UC’s Blue Ash regional campus. She earned her associate degree and became a registered nurse in 2001. Then in 2003, she graduated from UC College of Nursing’s RN to BSN program — the same program she leads today. 

Her educational journey wasn’t over, though. Inspired by her experience working on a medical-surgical unit and coming face-to-face with health disparities and inequities, Becky went on to earn a master’s degree in public health nursing in 2005 and a PhD in nursing research in 2008 before becoming an associate professor at UC’s renowned College of Nursing.

Rebecca Lee, PhD, MSN, RN, PHCNS-BC, CTN-A, FTNSS, is an Associate Professor and the Director of UC College of Nursing’s RN to BSN Online program. She’s a public health clinical nurse specialist and nurse researcher who holds certification in Community/Public Health Nursing and in Advanced Transcultural Nursing.

Designing the Best Student Experience

Becky believes nurses have answered a special calling to do their work. “As nurses, we see patients and their families during some of the very best and very worst experiences of their lives,” she says. “It’s a real blessing to be there for all of those human experiences that give life meaning.”

Becky also believes the RN to BSN Online program should be meaningful. That’s why her program director role is centered on producing the best possible experience for UC students. Becky collaborates with UC’s College of Nursing faculty, staff and administrators, and with the University of Cincinnati Online’s recruitment and marketing team, including Enrollment Services Advisors and Student Success Coordinators. “It truly takes a village,” she says, “and we all come to the table together.”

Flexibility is Key – So is Meeting Students Where They Are

Becky emphasizes an important aspect of the program — it’s designed to be a flexible and convenient way for a nurse to earn their BSN degree while working and managing other professional and personal responsibilities.

Recent graduates of associate degree in nursing programs, as well as working RNs, can choose to complete UC College of Nursing’s RN to BSN Onlineprogram full- or part-time. There are nine required core nursing courses totaling 27 credits. Core courses run for seven weeks (except for the 14-week capstone course), which allows students to move through the program at a faster pace, if this is what’s best for them.

Each course is offered six times a year. If students are in a course and need to drop it for some reason, they can pick it back up again in several weeks and continue their education without much of a delay.

Students also have the option to hit pause if “life happens” and circumstances get in the way. Because nursing faculty and support staff are attuned to students’ needs, they offer timely advice and encouragement. Their goal is to help students get the answers and support they need promptly in order to stay on track to complete the program. 

Becky credits the RN to BSN Online program’s thoughtful design to its popularity, saying:

It’s a virtual and asynchronous learning platform. Whatever shift you’re working, you can log in and engage with the content at your convenience. However, even though you can complete the program at your own pace and based on your own schedule, you’re not in the experience alone and don’t want to be. Nursing is not a solitary profession. Because we enroll students from across the U.S., you will engage in learning and interact with a diverse group of nursing professionals from many different backgrounds and geographic settings. In addition, you’ll regularly engage with program faculty and staff who are available to support you along the way, offering opportunities to meet virtually to address any challenges you may be having.

The online program also provides room for personalization, with courses and assignments that meet an individual student’s interests and goals. UC offers a wealth of resources to support students throughout their entire UC experience — from the moment they enroll in the RN to BSN program through graduation. 

Becky highlights the mentoring and connection-making opportunities in the program’s online format as equally helpful, as students who are experienced nurses offer advice to those who are newer to the profession.

Spotlight on Two Program Courses

The RN to BSN program offers courses to broaden students’ perspectives. One such course, Health Issues of Vulnerable and Marginalized Populations, is taught by Becky, who says:

My course is one that comes from my passion. While completing my dissertation, I lived in a family homeless shelter with mothers and their children and told their stories. That experience profoundly changed how I viewed the world and I wanted to share that experience with others.

The course encourages students to explore communities and apply their skills to real-world issues such as health disparities, structural racism, and diversity. And because I’m an advocate of person-first language, my course emphasizes the human aspect and not defining individuals by their circumstances or issues. 

For example, take the term “homeless families.” They’re experiencing homelessness, yes. But that does not define who they are. As part of my dissertation research, I interviewed a national expert on homelessness who helped me shift my perspective, saying about this population, “At the end of the day, we’re talking about families -mothers, fathers, children. Homelessness is simply a difficult life experience they’re passing through. That left a lasting impression on me.

Students come into Becky’s course from multiple disciplines. This unique interprofessional learning opportunity is open to all UC students, both undergraduate and graduate, which includes students from professions outside of nursing such as social work and public health. Her course is just one opportunity where diverse individuals come together and learn from one another at UC.

The online RN to BSN program also includes the course Focus on Community, where students learn about community-based nursing and population health. “They get to explore the areas around them, and view their patients through a different lens,” Becky says. “They begin to understand the community-level factors and social determinants that influence the health of the patients they care for in hospitals and clinics.”

Another differentiator of UC’s RN to BSN Online program is its relevance to what nurses need to know today. “We work to respond to societal changes and demands,” Becky says. “We cover important topics that include health disparities, health equity, and diversity issues. We work to ensure the learning experience is tailored to the passions the nurses bring with them, so there is real-world applicability.”

BSN Grads Often Continue Their UC Experience

UC’s ability to help students through the undergraduate programs and on to graduate school is something else that sets our university apart; Becky says:

We have outstanding graduate programs in the College of Nursing covering multiple specialty areas, including Adult Gerontology Acute Care, Neonatal, and Women’s Health that are led by my esteemed colleagues. If a student expresses an interest in a certain area, I can say, ‘You know what? I have just the program from you.’

Interested in Learning More?

Becky’s dual commitment to the nursing profession and UC College of Nursing’s RN to BSN Online program is evident — and inspiring. She immensely enjoys her role in the UC’s virtual classroom and says, “It gives me the opportunity to have a conversation with the future. I get to see the profession I love so much through the eyes of others.”

If you’re ready to take the next step into your nursing future by getting more information about UC’s RN to BSN Online program, connect online with an Enrollment Advisor today. You can also speak directly with an advisor by calling 513-556-740 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

Becky, her fellow faculty, and our student support representatives look forward to meeting you.

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