By Christopher Borro
The University of Iowa College of Nursing has partnered with North Iowa Area Community College to offer a seamless transition between a community-college education and nursing degree at the UI.
This initiative, called “Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science Nurse 3+1,” allows select nursing students to jump straight into taking online classes to get a UI degree after completing three years of community-college classes.
“The real advantage of this program is that we’re going to guarantee them a seat at Iowa; they’re not going to have to go out and search for schools … it’s going to be very seamless,” R.N. to B.S.N. 3+1 program recruiter Cheri Doggett said. She emphasized that the program would allow nursing students to become more involved with their families and communities instead of having to move to Iowa City.
“These are working nurses, and they’re putting in a lot of time … we’ve made this program designed for working nurses with families,” Doggett said.
NIACC is the second school involved with the program. The UI previously partnered with Des Moines Area Community College in October 2017 to provide the same opportunities to nursing students at that school. Nursing Dean Julie Zerwic said three other Iowa community colleges have reached out to the UI with the goal of implementing R.N. to B.S.N. 3+1 initiatives in those locations.
However, those schools will need to restructure their curricula to match the UI’s, as DMACC and NIACC have, before the program can proceed.
“What makes this work is their curricular revisions line up nicely with ours for [R.N. to B.S.N. 3+1] … and we provided guidance along the way,” said Anita Nicholson, the associate nursing dean.
Zerwic said the initiative would help nurses improve their abilities to administer care to patients. “We know that baccalaureate-prepared nurses who provide care result in better outcomes for patients,” she said. “There will be significant reductions in morbidity and mortality associated with that higher-educated nurse.”
She said employers will be more likely to hire nurses with bachelor’s degrees as well.
Doggett said around 90 percent of the selected nursing candidates will graduate through this program, which currently affects around 250 students from both DMACC and NIACC. The cost of the initiative is $13,216 per student, which Doggett estimated was around half the tuition of a private nursing school.
The entire program, except for a one-day initiation and a graduation ceremony at the end of the school year, takes place off the UI campus. In addition to required nursing courses, many of the students also take electives the UI offers online.
College of Nursing advisers such as Doggett and Nicholson visit the community colleges to introduce themselves to the students, make sure they’re prepared, and ensure the curriculum is running smoothly.
The UI is ranked fourth in the nation in terms of the education its nursing provides, which Zerwic says makes it an ideal spot to grow the R.N. to B.S.N. 3+1 initiative. “By having this collaboration, it’s important that we have more community-college students heading right to the university.”
[Editor’s note (2/21/18): In an earlier version of the story, North Iowa Area Community College was incorrectly called “Northern Iowa Area Community College” and later shortened to “Northern Community College.” Those names have been fixed. The DI regrets this error.]