By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Peggy Parsons recalls her excitement in 1963 when she heard about a “new” associate’s degree nursing program at Bacone College.
She said she was a young mother working as a licensed practical nurse at Muskogee General Hospital and dreamed of becoming a registered nurse. That new degree opened that door.
“The hospital’s women’s auxiliary funded my education,” Parsons said. “Of course, I had to pay it back when I graduated.”
Parsons will join in celebrating 50 years of Nursing Education at Bacone at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Virginia Palmer Student Life Center. Past and present instructors, directors and students, will attend the gala, which includes a lunch and campus tours.
Parsons and others from that first graduating class will then participate in the pinning ceremony for current associates degree in nursing graduates — Bacone’s final ADN class.
Bacone Nursing Department Chair Kathryn Bible said the Associate Degree in Nursing Program will discontinue after July 31, but the bachelor’s degree program will continue.
Bible said she feels bittersweet about the upcoming celebration.
“I graduated from the program in 1991 and nursing became my profession,” Bible said. “It was a career for me.”
In early 2012, the program was placed on a “conditional approval” status by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. In August, after a six-month review, a task force unanimously agreed to discontinue the degree.
Bacone Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty Dr. Robert K. Brown said the decision to discontinue the ADN program “is simply about resources, revenue and Bacone’s continued expansion as a baccalaureate-level institution.
“Our analysis has shown that the greatest potential for growth is in the BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) program, which coincides with Bacone becoming a four-year institution,” Brown said in an email. “The college did not have the physical and personnel resources to support an associate's and bachelor's program.”
Bible said this year’s associate degree in nursing class has 29 students.
Parsons, coordinator of the 50-year celebration, said 1,585 students, including this year’s class, graduated from the Bacone nursing program since the year she graduated in 1965.
“The 1965 class was the first class to graduate,” Parsons said. “We have seven members of our class coming back.”
She recalled several instructors who inspired her to learn.
“Capt. Luther Bazeman was a military nurse and a double amputee,” Parsons said. “Back then we never had elevators in the buildings. Capt. Bazeman inspired us to no end. He said you can get it if you want, you just have to reach at it.”
Parsons worked at Muskogee General Hospital (which later became Muskogee Regional Medical Center) for 26 years. She then spent 16 years at the Cardiology Clinic of Muskogee. After that, she taught medical coding for four years at Bacone.
“Now I volunteer for the hospital and the college,” she said.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Billie R. Tower Nursing Program at Bacone College.
WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Virginia Palmer Student Life Center at Bacone Commons, 2412 E. Shawnee Bypass.