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July 30, 2009
Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education has approved a proposal by Northwest for the implementation of a bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program, which will begin accepting students this fall.
The program aligns with Gov. Jay Nixon's Caring For Missourians initiative, an effort to increase the number of health-care professionals working statewide, and is designed for graduates of two-year nursing programs, such as those offered by North Central Missouri College in Trenton and Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa.
Students accepted into the program should complete nursing courses at schools like NCMC and SWCC. They must have unencumbered RN licenses and minimum grade point average. At Northwest they will take the general education and upper-division courses required for a four-year degree.
Created to provide maximum flexibility for place-bound students, the bachelor's in nursing completion program will allow some courses to be taught through Interactive Television originating at Northwest, Trenton and possibly other sites. Televised content will be blended with online learning.
Registered nurses who earn a bachelor's degree have increased professional opportunities, including a higher potential for earnings and advancement, compared to their colleagues who hold a two-year associate's degree.
According to Bev Schenkel, Northwest's dean of enrollment management, a number of degree candidates are expected to meet many of their course requirements through transfer credits.
"Missouri and many other states currently face a shortage of qualified health care professionals," she said. "Northwest is partnering with community colleges that have existing nursing programs in order to address this critical shortage while making it possible for more nurses to finish their degrees."
Schenkel emphasized that the new program at Northwest will meet the needs of working professionals, and that many courses will be offered online or in a blended format. Many face-to-face classes will be scheduled for the convenience of students with full-time jobs.
In addition to 50 credit hours of major-specific courses, the RN-BSN completion program will require successful completion of 42 credit hours of general education courses, six hours of institutional requirements and 26 hours of electives, which would come largely from the student's RN program.
University administrators estimate that the program will serve about 50 students a year within three to five years and require the addition of three to five new faculty members over that same period.