The College of Graduate Nursing, striving to be a key factor in

addressing the state and national nursing shortage, plans to introduce a

new and innovative RN program in fall 2004.

The College of Graduate Nursing will begin a Master of Science in

Nursing Entry Level (MSN-E) program and Dean Karen Hanford is thrilled.

“”It’s an exciting time for nursing,”” says Hanford. “”There needs to

be a revitalization of nursing.””

The three-year program, which combines an RN license and a MSN

degree, is open to students with bachelor’s degrees in any field who have

an interest in nursing and have completed the required prerequisites.

Doing this allows the college to tap into a broad pool of students who

are academically proven, focused on their career goals and will enrich

the profession with their varied bases of knowledge. Additionally,

nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing will be recruited to enroll in

the college’s MSN program.

The goal of the program is to produce up to 40 registered nurses in

its first year and up to 50 in the years to follow. Hanford has secured

preliminary approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing

(BRN) to begin the program and will complete the BRN approval process

prior to enrolling the first cohort. Current college offerings are BRN

approved and nationally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate

Nursing Education.

The MSN-E program is tailored toward the working nurse. The first

four semesters will include campus-based instruction and clinical

training. The remaining two years will be completed through distance

learning and online courses. Students will be eligible to sit for the

national RN licensing exam after 15 months, enabling them to work as a

registered nurse and integrate the professional role as they complete

graduate coursework.

The program offers students two areas of focus: a Clinical

Leadership and Management track and a Family Nurse Practitioner track.

According to workforce data, Southern California has the highest

nurse vacancy rate in the United States and the nursing shortage has

reached crisis levels across the country. California faces a shortage of

25,000 registered nurses in the next five years and as many as 60,000 by

2020.

“”California is producing 10,000 nurses a year but 5,000 qualified

applicants were turned away from colleges and universities in 2002,””

Hanford says. “”While many schools of nursing are enrolling more students,

California simply needs more schools of nursing. This program will feed

the pipeline for nurses as well as nursing educators.””

Universities near Western University of Health Sciences do not offer

majors in nursing, therefore graduates of these universities will have a

new opportunity to become a professional nurse. With salaries increasing

and job opportunities limitless, nursing is becoming a more attractive

career option for many talented individuals.

To recruit a diverse pool of new registered nurses, the college has

partnered with three regional colleges and universities — University of

La Verne, the Claremont Colleges and Cal Poly Pomona — that serve large

numbers of undergraduates who are Latino, African American and Asian

American/Pacific Islander.

Hanford says that through the program, the college will create the

professionals of the future and provide hospitals with nurses trained in

leadership and business management.

“”This will really infuse the profession, which has been attempting

to prepare more bachelor’s and master’s prepared nurses,”” she

says. “”We’re going to prepare professionals who will be adept at problem-

solving and multi-tasking.””

Looking to the future, Hanford says she has no doubt that the

college and WesternU can become a strong voice and leader in nursing

education in the Inland Empire.

“”Nursing is the backbone, the foundation of health care,”” she

says. “”A school of nursing that prepares registered nurses impacts a

community in so many positive ways. Historically, nurses complete their

education and seek employment in their home community. We’re hopeful that

our graduates will help to meet the health care needs of our citizens and

the workforce needs of our service partners.””