USF, JJC agree to nursing partnership
Aspiring nurses can take fast track through bridge program
JOLIET, Ill. — An exciting new collaboration between University of St. Francis (USF) and Joliet Junior College (JJC) is helping to pave the way for students on the nursing track.
Both USF and JJC administer academic programs in the nursing field. JJC offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree for individuals hoping to become registered nurses (RNs). USF offers the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN), which accommodates RNs who want to further their studies.
According to the October 2010 Institute of Medicine report titled “The Future of Nursing,” the nursing profession is the largest segment of the nation’s health care workforce and nurses with BSN degrees are becoming highly desired by hospitals and health care agencies. The report called for an increase of nurses with a BSN to 80 percent by the year 2020.
USF and JJC are accepting the challenge. The USF 3+1 Nursing Program with JJC will enable licensed RNs who have completed their AAS degree at JJC to transfer all relevant credits to USF to more efficiently earn their BSN. This convenient “3+1” arrangement allows students to begin USF coursework while still learning at the community college. Subsequent courses at USF are online.
The arrangement also offers a significant cost savings by offering the initial upper division nursing course and any remaining general education courses needed for the BSN at the lower community college tuition rate. The program is available to RNs transferring from JJC to USF, though USF administrators are talking with other regional community colleges about similar programs, according to USF’s Vice President for Admission & Enrollment Services Chuck Beutel.
“We are thrilled to enter into this partnership with the University of St. Francis,” JJC President Debra Daniels said. “At JJC, we provide many options that help students achieve their goals, including seamless transfer opportunities and access to advanced degrees.
“We believe that our students’ pursuit of quality education leads them to our doors — this partnership with USF provides them with continued educational excellence.”
The program’s first beneficiary is Bolingbrook’s Lori Hemedinger, who took her first 3+1 program course this summer and is enrolled to take four online general education courses with USF this fall.
“I was already taking nursing classes at JJC and this spring JJC’s Dean of Nursing Mary Beth Luna told me about this program.,” Hemedinger said. “I was really excited to come across it because the program is geared toward an adult learner. It’s close to home, everything’s online, I wouldn’t have to take a whole lot of extra classes to get the BSN, and on top of it, USF’s nursing program is really well-known in the area.”
The first experience of the 3+1 Nursing Program student is to take an Intro to Nursing class at JJC that is taught by one of USF’s nursing professors.
“My teacher was Connie Litwiller from USF. She was amazing — extremely welcoming, flexible about scheduling and even took me on a tour at USF. My jaw dropped when I saw their facilities,” said Hemedinger. “We had great conversations about nursing topics that I’ll always remember. She took me under her wing and just that one class was honestly an excellent experience.”
Conveniences of the 3+1 Nursing Program are many. As students complete AAS courses at JJC, they are also satisfying requirements for the BSN degree at USF.
Classes can be taken at both institutions simultaneously in the second year of the program. One of the introductory nursing courses is taught by USF faculty at the Joliet Junior College campus to familiarize students with online learning. Students will then begin online learning at USF, which will enable students to work while completing their degree. The program also offers students the opportunity to complete two graduate nursing courses as part of their BSN.
Reduced tuition rates at USF are offered for the introductory nursing course and all USF mission-specific general education required courses. Hemedinger will save more than $5,000 in the fall semester at USF because she’ll be charged JJC pricing for the general education courses she’s taking.
The 3+1 Nursing Program design was spearheaded by USF’s Cecily & John Leach College of Nursing Dean, Carol Wilson.
“I have attended the pivotal Nursing Summits for the last three years with Mary Beth Luna of JJC and other faculty and deans across the state,” Wilson said. “It is clear since the last Institute of Medicine Report in 2010 that nursing must increase the education of its nurses so we can provide the highest level of care for our patients and communities. Many hospitals and other health care agencies are mandating that their nurses obtain a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing.”
“Over the years, JJC has provided the foundation for most of our transfer students in our baccalaureate nursing program and they come well prepared to be successful in our rigorous BSN curriculum,” she continued. “This partnership features drastically reduced tuition rates for our community college Associate Degree in Nursing graduates to obtain their baccalaureates in nursing and, if they choose, to get a head start on their graduate degrees in nursing. It represents a respect for what each entity brings to the table and will result in enhanced health care for Joliet and surrounding communities.”
Hemedinger hopes to graduate in spring or summer of 2014, which will be a true milestone since she’s also a mother of five.
“Years ago I wanted to be a doctor, then ‘life happened’ and I had children,” she said. “ I’m just happy I figured out what I wanted to do and jumped in with both feet.”
Contact the JJC Nursing Department at (815) 280-2435 to speak with a nursing advisor about evaluation for placement in the USF 3+1 Nursing Program with JJC.
The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering 44 undergraduate programs, four degree-completion programs and 15 graduate programs, including two doctoral programs. Programs are offered in arts and science, business, education, nursing and health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.