Leader in Online Learning

Anita Skarbek recognized with School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award

Anita Skarbek (B.S.N. ’01, M.S.N. ’03) is director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies Registered Nurse-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program, which opens doors for nurses who otherwise wouldn’t have access to finishing their degrees.

Designed for working registered nurses, the UMKC RN-BSN program is recognized by the National League for Nursing for its innovative and effective use of technology. One feature that sets the program apart from others is the integration of rural, urban and suburban nurses coming together to explore issues relevant to health care and the nursing profession. Led by Skarbek, the program hones the professional development of RNs to become leaders, managers, coordinators and advocates for care.

Under her leadership, the RN-BSN program was the first UMKC program to be certified by the Higher Learning Commission as a distance education program. It was reaccredited by the Commission of Colleges of Nursing for another 10 years, and became a national online program.

A $1.75 million federal nursing technology grant led to the creation of the RN-BSN program’s Rural Nursing Initiative to assist rural nurses seeking their BSN. As a result of the funding, Skarbeck says nearly one-third of the RN-BSN student population are rural nurses.

In 2016, the RN-BSN program was awarded a one-year federal grant of $345,000 to recruit and retain African American and Hispanic RNs. Anita says that as a Hispanic RN, working to further diversify the profession is also a personal goal. That same year, UMKC honored her with the 2016 Online Advocacy Award.

In 2017, the graduate nursing program was ranked in the Top 25 of the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report for the fifth year in a row.

Skarbek, who is also a clinical assistant professor teaching in the program, says her most positive teaching experiences occur every semester with newly admitted students, some of whom have never taken an online class before. Taking these courses involves teleconferencing or skyping with students.  She said, “It is so rewarding to see students who were in tears because they thought they would not be able to learn the technology – do well in an online program and actually excel in this environment.”

Skarbek’s research centers on incivility and workplace bullying, specifically how this behavior impacts the safety and quality of patient care delivery, RN recruitment and retention efforts, as well as nursing’s professional and social advancement.

“The exciting thing related to my research topic is that I have been invited to share my research findings at various conferences,” Skarbek said. “My plan is to develop a continuing education course on this topic.”

Skarbek is an active member in nursing organizations such as Missouri Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes 16 alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor Skarbek and other outstanding alumni at the 2017 Alumni Awards Luncheon April 20 on campus. The luncheon is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted more than 500 attendees and garnered more than $120,000 in scholarship funds.

Click here for tickets or sponsorship information for the April 20, 2017, Alumni Awards Luncheon.

Click here for more information on the 2017 Alumni Award recipients.



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