Princess Marshall, a student in the new Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing program, learns how to change hospital beds. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau University launches new Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing program

May 21, 2021
Kathryne Davis
Dinesh Lamba practices making hospital beds during the ELMSN’s first day of on-ground classes. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Mae Tyndell’s nursing career has been nearly two decades in the making.

Tyndell, a student in the new Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing program in Brenau University’s Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing, has dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner and working in the geriatric field.

Although Tyndell got her bachelor’s degree in communications, she realized her love for nursing while volunteering in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, where she was living at the time.

“I saw the need for volunteers and started to like taking care of other people,” she said. “When I volunteered with the geriatric population, it was very rewarding. People are living longer and needing more health care, especially with COVID.

“I want to make sure somebody is taking care of our older patients. With the ELMSN program, I’ll have a lot of experience and can go on to work in the geriatric field in a management or teaching role, or even working bedside.”

The ELMSN program, based at Brenau’s Norcross campus, held its first classes virtually May 10 with on-ground classes beginning May 19. The program gives Tyndell and other students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in five semesters and is one of only three in Georgia. Featuring a mix of online and on-site classes, the program includes 600 hours of clinical experience to prepare students for careers in advanced patient care, public policy and health administration.

Mae Tyndell, left, listens during a lecture. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Similarly to Tyndell, Stephanie Castrillon also plans to become a nurse practitioner but wants to work in the psychiatric field.

“This program is a great stepping stone for me,” Castrillon said. “I want to work with minority and marginalized groups. My bachelor’s is in psychology, and I want to use that. I think there’s a huge need for work like this, especially with minorities.”

Michael Jones, assistant professor of nursing and ELMSN coordinator, said the program provides a way for more students to become nurses and help fill a growing need in the field.

Jones said the ELMSN was built for those with bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines “to provide them with opportunities to become a nurse in a more accelerated fashion.”

“Students in the ELMSN program will learn the basic skills of nursing, which we call foundations,” Jones said. “They’ll have lectures and be in labs, and in the second semester, the students will spend time at hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes to get hands-on experience. In addition, we’ll be preparing them to become nurse educators and putting them in a good position to get into a post-master’s program.”

Troy Heidesch, director of the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing, said another reason for starting this program was to provide a graduate degree option for students in Brenau’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Heidesch found that about 75% of students in the ABSN program were going on to pursue graduate degrees, and the two programs share similar courses.

After research showed student interest in an ELMSN, Heidesch and his team got to work on the program, which took about a year and a half to develop and approve while recruiting students.

Peggy Bobon gives a thumbs-up to students during their first on-ground class. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“The ELMSN program further exemplifies our focus on our students, their needs and the community need for nurses,” Heidesch said. “We’re listening to what the students want, and we’re delivering on what they need to be successful.”

Gale Starich, dean of Brenau’s Ivester College of Health Sciences, said there are plans to initiate the ELMSN program on the university’s Gainesville campus in the near future.

“This program allows students to sit for the nursing licensing exam while earning a master’s degree at the same time,” Starich said. “The ELMSN program will add to the long history of the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing’s innovative spirit to address workforce shortages with creative approaches.”

Brenau President Anne Skleder had high praises for all the work being done in health sciences.

“I am so proud of this latest program launch from the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing,” she said. “At Brenau University, we are completely committed to transforming the lives of our students and meeting the needs of our community for top-notch healthcare professionals across all of the programs in our Ivester College of Health Sciences.”

For more information about Brenau’s ELMSN program, go to