Milwaukee Area Technical College and Mount Mary University are launching a new program aimed at helping prospective nurses earn a bachelor’s degree at a lower cost per credit than other programs in the region.
The “Nursing 1-2-1” program is open to new women high school graduates. The program requires the student to take liberal arts and general studies classes at Mount Mary during the first year. The second two years are spent at MATC’s downtown campus completing an associate degree in nursing with summers spent taking classes at Mount Mary. A total of 32 seats in the MATC program are guaranteed to students in the program each year.
Students return to Mount Mary in the fourth year to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While students will be able to get their license as a registered nurse following the third year, some nursing positions require a BSN and many require the degree for promotion and advancement.
The program is intended to address a shortage of nurses in the state. The Wisconsin Center for Nursing is recommending nursing program capacity increase by 7,500 graduates annually by 2020 to meet projected demand.
MATC president Vicki Martin, who began her career with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Nursing and was dean of students in the Carroll College/Columbia College of Nursing program in the 1980s, said that even in periods where there hasn’t been a shortage of nurses, graduates have been able to find jobs.
“I can only picture what it’s going to be in the next few years,” she said, adding shortages aren’t limited to nursing and are present in a number of fields. “We have a lot going on in our community.”
Mount Mary president Eileen Schwalbach said the shortage presents not only a responsibility for the institutions but an opportunity to make a difference.
“It’s really exciting for us to be sharing this responsibility with MATC,” she said. “(The students are) going to go out and make a difference in health care.”
Cheryl Bailey, Mount Mary school of natural and health sciences dean, said the program does require students to commit to nursing as they enter Mount Mary. The university has worked with faculty in other disciplines to target general studies classes towards nursing. The first year of classes the students will all take together, including a one credit nursing bootcamp class intended to orient students to the profession and faculty at both campuses.
The final year of classes will be online, allowing students to work full- or part-time if they believe they are able to handle it with a full class load, Bailey said.