Science Alumni Spotlight: Margaret Reilly

April 26, 2021


I had at times considered pursuing my doctorate as I began working in an academic setting. I found myself returning to school time and again and earning a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing, from Hunter College (CUNY), a Master’s degree as an Adult Nurse Practitioner, followed by a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Advanced Certificate also from Hunter.

I did not think pursuing a doctoral degree was financially feasible for me as I had five children to put through college. So, when the CUNY Graduate Center opened the Nursing doctoral program in 2006, I saw it as a gift of an opportunity. I pulled the application pieces together and was admitted into Cohort 2 of the Doctorate in Nursing Science program.  My research focused on nursing workforce education specifically associate degree nurses and their motivations and barriers to pursuing a bachelor’s degree. I was selected as a Jonas Scholar to complete my degree and that subsequently led to a postdoctoral fellowship in the office of the CUNY Dean for Health and Human Services.

While at CUNY’s Health and Human Services I participated in research that demonstrated there was interest in pursuing a bachelor degree among CUNY Nurse graduates, but there was a lack of RN to BS completion seats in the system to accommodate half of the 800 associate degree nurse graduates per annum and a great need for flexibility in to pursue academic progression. This research contributed to a feasibility study for the development of a fully online RN to BS program in CUNY. Coincidentally, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, under the leadership of John Mogulescu, University Dean for Academic Affairs at CUNY, had begun to emerge as an innovative new school dedicated to advancing online degree programs at CUNY.

Having received my DNS degree in 2012, I applied to the CUNY School of Professional Studies online RN to BS program and was appointed as the Academic Director of the Nursing Program. This served as an opportunity to embrace my work. The program opened in 2014 with 24 nursing students and has since grown to be the largest RN to BS completion program in CUNY with nearly 600 undergraduate students; including four innovative dual/ joint degree partnerships with four CUNY associate degree nursing programs, and over 300 graduates. If you build it they will come – as the saying goes! By 2018, SPS launched three graduate programs including the only Nursing Informatics program in a public university system in NYS.

I feel privileged to have been provided the opportunity to earn my doctoral degree at the CUNY Graduate Center and in turn to pay it forward and provide an opportunity to many nurses to advance their education.