"We need to really address the barriers and accessibility for adult learners and I think online education is a perfect way to do that. And it will be a great way for us to bring it to the nursing workforce," Bazarko says.
Although not every organization has the ability to fully fund a program like this, there are certainly take-aways for other organizations. Bazarko says in the future, fewer nurses will be serving at the bedside; instead, their practice will take them down other paths, such as telemedicine, education, or public health. Therefore, today's nurse leaders "have to shift from the traditional paradigm of how we think of nursing and the nurse brand and the roles that nurses play."
"All of us as nurse leaders have to take step back and check own biases and filters around [whether we are] really thinking about our workforce and ensuring that we're laying a path for the future and organizing our initiatives that way," she says.
UnitedHealth's MSN program will launch in October, and Bazarko says since the company is treating it as a pilot project (applicants haven't even been selected yet), it's too soon to tell whether they'll offer it again. But she hopes it will become an ongoing program if its first run is a success. She also hopes it will shine a light on the need for developing the next generation of nurse leaders.
"I think what it will serve to do is identify another best practice that can be deployed to advance educational preparation of nurses in the United States and their own organizations and help prepare nurses to drive change," she says.