July 28, 2011
Northwest to graduate first students from nursing program
MARYVILLE, Mo. - As Northwest Missouri State University celebrates its summer commencement ceremony today, three graduates will be the first to receive bachelor of science degrees in nursing from the University.
Northwest launched the bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, completion program during the fall of 2009. Designed to meet the needs of working professional nurses, all courses associated with the program are offered online.
Graduating with their nursing degrees are Margaret Howell, of Jamesport, and Margaret Ohlberg and Devon Ulmer, both of Maryville.
"I am excited for our first graduates of the new BSN completion program," said Dr. Charles McAdams, dean of Northwest's College of Arts and Sciences. "The program provides essential professional development to local nurses while at the same time helping to provide the region with bachelor's-prepared registered nurses. With an aging population it is critical we have an adequate number well-prepared health care providers."
The program focuses on research and healthcare issues that today's nurses are facing. Students learn to write research papers and use evidence-based practices when implementing new strategies into their departments. The students must also complete hours in the community observing nurses at work.
"When pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing, the focus is driven toward leadership and management," nursing instructor Brooke McAtee said. "These courses aid those students with that transition. Bachelor's-prepared nurses are used in a broad scope of nursing practice. They can remain floor nurses or they can pursue other routes directed toward community health, leadership and management. With these routes nurses must stay abreast of all healthcare issues."
To enroll in the program, students must have a current unencumbered registered nurse's license and a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 for all undergraduate courses. The degree requires a minimum of 124 academic hours, including 42 credit hours of general education courses and at least 40 hours in courses numbered above the 300 level.
The time a student spends working toward his or her degree varies depending on previous coursework. Students transferring classes from partner schools may complete the program in one year. Other students will likely take two years to complete the program due to prerequisites.
Northwest partners with five community colleges to ensure registered nurses throughout the region may conveniently complete their bachelor's degrees in nursing. Colleges partnering with Northwest are Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, North Central Missouri College in Trenton, and Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Southwestern Community College in Iowa.
Feedback from a recent focus group also showed students in the BSN program are pleased with its convenience and flexibility as well as its affordability compared to other programs in the region.
"We want to be able to meet the needs of working professional nurses for this region and I think we've done that pretty successfully," said Leslie Chandler, coordinator of student orientation and transfer affairs at Northwest. "It is something the University is committed to continuing to improve."
By developing its BSN program, Northwest recognized nursing is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the United States, with an expected 587,000 new jobs created between 2006 and 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Council projects an increase of 24.33 percent in the number of RNs needed in Northwest Missouri.
With the beginning of its BSN program, Northwest has seen huge growth in its pre-nursing program. For the fall of 2010, 53 first-time freshmen registered to study pre-nursing. So far, 58 incoming freshmen are enrolled for fall 2011 to study pre-nursing, making it the most popular of the University's biological sciences pre-professional programs.
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Northwest Missouri State University
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