This sounds good: FSC, PCC Unveil Joint Nursing Program | theledger.com | The Ledger | Lakeland, FL
LAKELAND | Getting a bachelor's degree in nursing will become faster this fall for students taking an accelerated program unveiled Tuesday by Florida Southern College and Polk Community College.
Nursing students will be able to earn a bachelor's degree in three years, instead of the traditional four, helping fill the county's need for more nurses with advanced degrees.
While in PCC's two-year nursing program, students would be dually enrolled in FSC.
Having taken some Florida Southern courses by the time they graduate from PCC with an associate's degree, they could take two semesters of nursing at FSC, instead of two years, to earn their bachelor's degrees.
FSC President Anne Kerr and PCC President Eileen Holden revealed the dual-collaboration at a press conference held across Johnson Avenue from the FSC nursing building slated to open in August.
"We are delighted and proud to join Florida Southern College in this innovative partnership," Holden said. "We look forward to seeing our students graduate from Polk Community College and from Florida Southern College and then take care of us."
Florida is projected to have a shortage of 18,400 full-time registered nurses by 2010 and 52,200 by 2020. What often gets left out of reports of nursing shortages, however, is the need for more nurses who hold bachelor's and master's degrees.
"There's a growing body of research that, the more baccalaureate trained nurses you have, the better the outcomes are," said Lance Anastasio, president of Winter Haven Hospital.
Getting a bachelor's degree boosts nurses' abilities to move into management positions and work toward master's degrees that would let them teach nursing courses to bring in more nurses. More than 12,000 qualified applicants were turned away from Florida's nursing education programs in 2007-08, in large part because of faculty shortages and limited funding for faculty positions, according to a survey by the Florida Center for Nursing and the Florida Board of Nursing. All of which is a major concern for hospitals.
Officials from WHH, Lakeland Regional Medical Center and Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center each spoke Tuesday about their desire to keep working closely with the colleges.
"We are in an increasing demand for not just a nurse but the well-prepared nurse," said Rebecca Brewer, chief operating officer for Heart of Florida.
"You need someone who is able to use critical thinking skills to ferret out how they can provide the best care."
LRMC will gladly "provide places for nursing experience for their students and careers for their graduates for many years to come," LRMC President Jack Stephens said.
The joint venture is a natural for PCC, which produces the largest number of registered nurses in Polk County, and FSC, which has the only four-year baccalaureate nursing degree in Polk, Kerr said.
According to research done as the project developed, FSC officials said, this is the only example in the nation of this type of partnership between a private, comprehensive, liberal arts college and a public community college.
"This program will be nothing short of extraordinary," Kerr promised.
With bachelor's-degree nursing classes taught in the evenings and on Saturdays, students are able to hold nursing jobs and extend their education at the same time.
Sarah Linck, preparing to graduate in May from PCC's nursing program, said she wishes the accelerated program had been available earlier. She said she will encourage other students to take advantage of it.
"There are so many more opportunities if you have your BSN," said her mother, Toni Linck, a nursing instructor at PCC.
Kerr also released information Tuesday on more financial help for FSC nursing students. George Miller, an FSC trustee emeritus, and his wife, Margaret, have pledged a $500,000 Bertram and Margaret Reid nursing scholarship. Another new nursing scholarship is the Mary Cox scholarship donated by Hal and Marjorie Roberts, Lynn and Mark Hollis and Dr. William Hollis. The amount of that scholarship program wasn't released.
FSC and PCC both have other nursing scholarships, many of them made possible through donations from Polk County's five hospitals. PCC has about $500,000 in nursing scholarships from the hospitals, which help about 75 nursing student a year, said Tracy Porter, PCC Foundation executive director.