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St. Ambrose offering new online nursing program for nurses to further their careers

The creation of the school is a direct response to the challenge of nationwide rural healthcare staffing shortages following the COVID-19 pandemic.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — St. Ambrose University announced on Jan. 17 that it is adding an online nursing program to its portfolio starting Fall 2023.

The Nano Nagle Online School of Nursing will offer Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to Bachelor of Science in nursing and registered nurse to BSN degree programs. It will also offer related certifications. The programs each take at least six semesters to complete.

"So, in looking at the need for nurses over the next decade, the nursing shortage is ever increasing," Dr. Lynn Kilburg, St. Ambrose University Interim Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said. "We had a pretty good exodus from the nursing profession on the heels of COVID coupled with fewer high school graduates coming into college. So looking at alternative pathways to address that nursing shortage was really important to the profession, as well as the population that we cared for."

According to Interim Associate Dean for the College of Health and Human Services, Dr. Katrina Browning, there are just a handful of programs in the country that allow LPNs to earn a BSN online.

"There are only approximately seven other online LPN to BSN programs in the country. So it's a fairly limited option to students. So it opens some doors for students that may not otherwise have access to education," Dr. Browning said.

Students will take most of their classes online but come in for clinical rotations as well as several skill check-ups. They do not need to live in Iowa to enroll. 

"[We have] partnerships with healthcare organizations who are partnering with us to kind of help facilitate some of [the in-person check-ups]," Dr. Browning said.

Dr. Browning and Dr. Kilburg say online programs are as effective as in-person ones in preparing future nurses.

"Any nursing program is going to be accredited to ensure the quality of the health care provider," Dr. Kilburg said. 

"Really the curriculums are similar," Dr. Browning added. "One is just offered with the classes in that online format. But they're getting the same content."

Registered nurse and Lab & Office Assistant Rose Shultz has almost 19 years of experience as an RN. But last year she decided to leave the front lines because she wanted more stability in her schedule to spend time with her family. Now she teaches simulation labs for nursing students and recognizes that things have changed from almost two decades ago. An adjustment she says will help BSN candidates in the new online nursing program.

"You get into a routine of how you do things. And so you do things in a certain way in the hospital, and maybe there have been updates on how those things are done. So sometimes there is a little bit of adjustment that has to happen," Shultz said.

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