Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) is enlarging its College

of Graduate Nursing with the addition of two new programs and expansion to

a second site.

Beginning in August, the on-site portion of WesternU’s Internet-based

Master of Science in Nursing/ Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN/FNP) degree

program will be offered through the Pomona campus as well as the regional

focus center in Chico, and will be broadened into three tracks. The joint

MSN/FNP degree will still be offered, but the two programs also will be

offered individually, with an MSN degree for current nurse practitioners

and an FNP certificate for nurses already prepared with a master’s degree.

The University’s web-based MSN/FNP degree program began at the WesternU

Regional Center at Chico in 1997, and was placed under the umbrella of the

College of Graduate Nursing in 1998. It was the first program of its kind

in the nation.

“”It should be very appealing to a lot of people; it definitely enables us

to have a broader market,”” said Karen Hanford, MSN/FNP/PA-C, program

director and acting dean for WesternU’s College of Graduate Nursing.

As part of a curriculum development project, Mary Anne Schultz, PhD, RN, a

consultant to the University, has created a market survey for nursing

professionals in hospitals and clinics. It asks respondents to evaluate

the educational needs of nurses currently and in the future, and will be

used to ensure that course work in the College of Graduate Nursing aligns

with the needs of patients and nursing employers.

“”The feedback we get will be invaluable,”” Dr. Schultz said. “”I’m expecting

that the surveys will tell us that nurses are interested in improving

their management skills, both in information technology and in budgeting.””

Based on this projection, WesternU is examining the development of a

master’s degree in Nursing Economics/ Administration for the fall of 2000.

The program is still in the early stages of consideration, and will

proceed based in part upon the survey results.

Another change the graduate nursing program anticipates is the addition of

some traditional, on-campus courses. The current Internet-based program

provides access to higher education to nurses who couldn’t previously

schedule traditional coursework around their jobs, families or long

commutes, but a need also has been identified for campus-based classes.

“”Adding some site-based programs to the Pomona campus would give nurses in

the Inland Empire an added resource,”” Hanford said. “”There is a lot of

expertise on campus, and it also would be a conduit for continuing

education as we move into offering lifelong learning for our alumni.””

Hanford said Dr. Schultz was brought on board to offer expertise and a new

perspective to the program’s advancements.

“”Dr. Schultz has a background in business and healthcare economics that

fits well with our need for strategic planning and marketing,”” said

Hanford.

Dr. Schultz is a graduate of the UCLA School of Nursing and has worked

with nursing programs at the University of California at Irvine,

California State University at San Bernadino, University Hospitals of

Cleveland and University of Cincinnati Hospitals. She is on advisory

boards for the Journal of Nursing Administration, the American Nurses

AssociationCalifornia and the Gamma Tau chapter of Sigma Theta Tau

International.

“”The opportunity to work on this project with WesternU is exciting. It’s

futuristic and it holds the nursing profession to a high standard,”” Dr.

Schultz said.

A clinical coordinator also has been hired to help develop the nursing

program on the Pomona campus, and is expected to begin in June.

WesternU’s College of Graduate Nursing is approved by the Board of

Registered Nursing and is accreditation-eligible from the American

Association of Colleges of Nursing. The program’s charter class of six

students graduated in January, and an additional 18 received diplomas June

4.

The prerequisites for the program are: a bachelor of science degree in

nursing with a grade point average of 3.0; coursework in biochemistry and

statistics; and a computer with Internet capabilities. The MSN/FNP program

is comprised of a six-semester, two-year curriculum, and requires two on-

site weekend visits each 15-week semester. Students are assigned to

preceptors in their hometown, and complete their clinical assignments on a

weekly basis.

Classes for the fall semester in the College of Graduate Nursing begin

August 30. Applications to begin in the fall 2000 term will be accepted

through March 1, 2000. For more information, call (530) 898-7034.