The changes will boost enrollment, accelerate programs, increase the number of nurses graduating each year and better prepare students for an increasingly complex nursing environment.
Virginia Tilden, D.N.Sc., dean of the UNMC College of Nursing, said the changes result from bold action by the college to solve Nebraska’s serious nursing shortage, projected to grow to nearly 4,000 nurses by 2020.
More bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) student slots will open at all five Nebraska nursing campuses in Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, Scottsbluff and Norfolk. The college will admit 325 new students – double the normal fall admission capacity – more than any time in its 93-year history.
New facilities helped expand student capacity. The new Norfolk division added 32 slots, and a new Omaha nursing sciences center will alleviate cramped teaching space. Buildings in both cities will be complete this fall.
The college’s new curriculum reflects a new national gold standard, Dr. Tilden said. It sets high benchmarks for care quality, patient safety and interprofessional clinical education that centers on what’s best for the patient. It shifts emphasis from lectures to critical thinking, observation and judgment skills essential to clinical tasks.
“Nursing care 10 years ago wasn’t as complex as today,” Dr. Tilden said. “The convergence of very sick patients and fast-changing medical technologies requires a new teaching model. It’s a dynamic curriculum that sets a high bar for rapidly moving students to think and act like expert clinicians. It also incorporates new care quality and systems standards.”
The new curriculum speeds up the time it takes to complete bachelor’s degree requirements from five semesters to four – or from two and a half years to two years. Students first take nursing prerequisite course work totaling 62 credits, then apply to UNMC to finish their BSN degree.
“This is our latest push to accelerate nursing programs,” Dr. Tilden said. “Since 2002, we’ve increased enrollment by more than 30 percent and added fast-track options at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. We’ve worked aggressively to put more and better educated nurses into practice faster.”
Frequency of admission to the bachelor’s program will change from twice a year to once a year. Beginning this fall, students will be admitted once annually — in August. The change mirrors the prevailing admission cycle at the nation’s major nursing schools and other UNMC health colleges.
“This shifts substantial funds from administrative costs to nurse education, and that benefits all Nebraska,” Dr. Tilden said.
Prospective students should apply now to be considered for fall admittance. Slots will fill quickly. To accommodate students, the deadline for applications has been extended to June 1.
To apply or for more information, go to www.unmc.edu/nursing or call (402) 559-4110.
As the state’s only academic health science center, UNMC is on the leading edge of health care. Breakthroughs are possible because hard-working researchers, educators and clinicians are resolved to work together to fuel discovery. In 2009, UNMC’s extramural research support topped $100 million for the first time, resulting in the creation of 3,600 jobs in Nebraska. UNMC’s academic excellence is shown through its award-winning programs, and its educational programs are responsible for training more health professionals practicing in Nebraska than any other institution. Through its commitment to education, research, patient care and outreach, UNMC and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, have established themselves as one of the country’s leading health care centers. UNMC’s physician practice group, UNMC Physicians, includes 550 physicians in 50 specialties and subspecialties who practice primarily in The Nebraska Medical Center. For more information, go to UNMC’s Web site at www.unmc.edu.