BISMARCK, ND—As Baby Boomers age and their need for health care grows, nursing schools struggle to expand capacity. The nursing shortage in the United States is expected to intensify at a rapid pace now and in the coming years. The University of Mary, North Dakota’s only private Catholic university, announced today it wants to be at the forefront of the nursing shortage solution by expanding its offerings and launching a new accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program starting (spring semester) January 2018.

“The number of students enrolled in accelerated BSN programs increases yearly,” said Dr. Glenda Reemts, professor and chair of the Division of Nursing at the University of Mary, referencing survey data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). “In 2012, AACN found there were over 15,000 students enrolled in accelerated BSN programs in 255 colleges nationwide. The typical second-degree nursing student is motivated, older, and has higher academic expectations than traditional entry level nursing students. Accelerated BSN students typically do well academically and have high first-time National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) initial pass rates. Because of their maturity, as well as education and life experiences, employers are quick to hire graduates of BSN accelerated programs.”

University of Mary’s Division of Nursing already offers three accredited BSN tracks: an on-campus traditional BSN program; a blended LPN-BSN and an online RN to BSN.

This new accelerated BSN program is rigorous, intense and designed for individuals who have completed a previous bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, have graduated from an accredited college or university, and requires a 3.0 GPA on a minimum of 24 credits on prerequisite courses. Curriculum for the accelerated nursing students requires 70 nursing credits and approximately 550 hours of clinical and laboratory experiences. The majority of courses will be taught over a seven-to eight-week time frame from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and completed in a highly compressed 12-month period. Once the coursework is completed, the capstone/practicum course follows over a five-week period for a total of 13 months.

“We will first admit 16 students with the intent of increasing to 24 students the second year,” said Reemts, who added that the application deadline for this new program is August 1, 2017.

Reemts said, the University of Mary Division of Nursing already received inquiries from individuals who are interested in an accelerated nursing track such as this new program. In addition, some of the traditional BSN students who already have a bachelor’s degree stated they would have preferred an accelerated program if it had been an option.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), in 2016 the NCLEX pass rate in North Dakota for registered nurses was 90.69 percent, higher than the national average of 84.57 percent. The University of Mary graduates fared even better with a pass rate of 94 percent.

“Our assessment data reveals University of Mary students are well prepared and employers are very satisfied with our graduates,” added Reemts. “We expect the accelerated program graduates to be highly sought after because of their maturity, as well as education and life experiences. Employers are quick to hire graduates of BSN accelerated programs.”

According to AACN’s report on enrollment and graduations in baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 64,067 qualified applicants for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2016 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and clinical preceptors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections for 2014 through 2024, registered nursing (RN) is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. With University of Mary’s help, the RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.7 million in to 3.2 million by 2024, an increase of 439,300, or 16 percent. However, the Bureau also projects the need for 649,10 replacement nurses in the workforce, bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.09 million by 2024.

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