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The accelerated BSN program will begin in fall 2012 and run for 15 consecutive months.

Photo courtesy of: College of Health Sciences and Professions

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School of Nursing receives major grant

Ohio University’s School of Nursing, whose enrollment has increased sixfold over the past three years, received even more fuel for growth this summer thanks to a federal grant and a boost from the Ohio Board of Regents.

Nursing received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, a department within Health and Human Services. The funds will support the launch of a program to help people with an existing bachelor’s degree outside of nursing complete requirements to receive an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Adena Health Systems will be a partner in the program, which will be offered at Adena’s facilities in Chillicothe, as well as on Ohio University’s Athens and Southern campuses.

Mary Bowen, director of the School of Nursing, said that the accelerated-degree program will benefit students who already have a degree in another field and are interested in transitioning their career to nursing.

“Accelerated nursing programs add new nurses to the market, but they also add diversity to the nursing profession,” Bowen said. “These students bring with them knowledge and understanding from their different bachelor degrees and experiences. With these experiences, they bring new elements of leadership, new ideas for patient care, and different ways of working together.”

The accelerated BSN program will begin in fall 2012 and run for 15 consecutive months. The rigorous, fast-paced curriculum is part of the school’s push to ease a national shortage of nurses, particularly ones who hold a BSN.

“One of the main thrusts for this grant is to increase the number of nurses with BSNs within the healthcare system,” Bowen said. “In southeast Ohio, only about 20 percent of all employed nurses have a BSN.” She added that The Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has recommended that the nursing profession increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses to 80 percent by 2020.

Joyce Zurmehly, an associate professor on Ohio University’s Chillicothe campus who was instrumental in securing the federal grant, said the funding will help support Ohio’s mission of serving its students while helping the region.

“[The program] offers an opportunity for students to efficiently build on a previous degree and pursue a dynamic and rewarding career in nursing,” Zurmehly said.

A second boost for the School of Nursing came from its designation by the Ohio Board of Regents as a Choose Ohio First Program of Innovation, which gives the school access to $15 million in scholarship funds that the program distributes to selected programs, said Briana Hervet, director of Choose Ohio First.

Hervet added that the designation goes only to highly rigorous programs that attract high-achieving Ohio students, and it aims to keep them learning here, working here and contributing to the state’s economy. The School of Nursing should find out by February how much it will be awarded from the fund.

The accelerated-degree program and Ohio Board of Regents designation are likely to accelerate growth in a program that has increased from about 1,000 students three years ago to more than 6,300 today, with much of that growth coming from programs and the introduction of a BSN program on the Athens campus.  The school is also finalizing details to offer an online master’s degree.