GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s School of Nursing are joining together to put community college students on the fast track to receiving their bachelor of science in nursing degrees.
The partnership agreement, which L&C’s Board of Trustees approved Nov. 5, enables community college students to finish their associate degrees and a majority of the general education requirements toward their BSN from SIUE at Lewis and Clark.
“Not only is this agreement ensuring our students a clear path to their BSN, but it will also help them arrive there with very little debt,” L&C President Dale Chapman said.
Assistant Dean of SIUE’s School of Nursing Roberta Harrison said this agreement may open the doors for students who may not have originally seen themselves going into a four-year program.
“They can complete the coursework for an associate degree at the community college level,” Harrison said. “When they transition into our online program, they can already see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
A student who successfully completes the first two semesters of the outlined BSN Partnership curriculum at L&C can enroll in the first two School of Nursing courses during their third and fourth semesters. Once a student has successfully completed the associate degree in nursing program at L&C and licensure as a registered nurse is obtained, that student may progress through the remaining four RN to BSN nursing courses through the School of Nursing’s online program.
“In the future, SIUE School of Nursing hopes to serve as the hub for a number of community colleges that seek university partnerships in offering students a progressive track in achieving a baccalaureate degree in nursing,” Harrison said. “This type of partnership will have a positive effect on the workforce by increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses at the bedside.”
In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” detailing how nurses’ roles, responsibilities and education should change to meet the needs of an aging, increasingly diverse population and to respond to a complex, evolving health care system. The report recommended increasing the percentage of the bachelor of science prepared registered nurse workforce to 80 percent by 2020.
“Community college nursing programs play a critical role in educating the nurse workforce for the country, and therefore in partnership with SIUE, L&C will provide a seamless transition to SIUE for the bachelor’s degree in nursing,” said Donna Meyer, CEO of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, and former L&C dean of health sciences. “The blending of the two programs makes for a unique learning experience. All of the course requirements and academic advising elements have been pre-arranged as a result of the agreement. This pairing of programs is high-quality and unparalleled, and the agreement will assist nursing students in completing the course work for a baccalaureate degree in nursing.”
“L&C is the first to work collaboratively with us on something like this,” said Laura Bernaix, interim dean of the School of Nursing. “This will be an agreement that other community colleges in Illinois will also desire, and we have already initiated discussions for additional partnerships.”
L&C Director of Nursing Education Sheri Banovic said L&C’s nursing program and SIUE’s School of Nursing have worked well together for many years and look forward to the partnership.
“This agreement will provide students a cost-effective and seamless path to further their nursing education,” Banovic said. “We are very excited to provide this opportunity for our students.”