McAuley School of Nursing Streamlines Accelerated Degree Program

Healthy Times, Summer 2002 issue

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It's no secret that the health care industry has an urgent need for more nurses. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, hospitals today have a deficit of 126,000 nurses, and that number is expected to climb to 400,000 in the next decade. The McAuley School of Nursing is responding to the need for nurses with an innovative new program to attract more students, provide them with an excellent education and have them on the job more quickly than ever before.

The School's revised Second Degree Program, which debuts this fall, will allow students who already have bachelors' degrees in other fields to earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing in only 12 months. The previous program required 22 months.

This intensive, full-time program incorporates the same philosophy and objectives as the school's traditional undergraduate program, and offers equivalent clinical time. But Christine Pacini, associate professor and assistant dean of the College, is quick to point out that the accelerated program is not a four-year curriculum "squashed" into one year. Rather, it is a carefully crafted, streamlined program of instruction and clinical experience specifically designed for educated adult learners.

"This program is for students who are a little bit older. They already have credentials, workplace experience, focus and clarity about what they want in life," she explains. "The program builds off the skills and education they already have."

The program's goal is to produce excellent nurses who possess strong theoretical and clinical skills, are grounded in UDM's nursing philosophy and are prepared to achieve their career objectives. The curriculum focuses on three key areas: evidence-based, culturally competent nursing; professional role development; and inquiry. Course and clinical work are highly integrated and encompass the many roles nurses have in the health care system--care providers, leaders and managers, researchers and advocates.

First semester classes will stress fundamental nursing skills and concepts, while clinical rotations will emphasize treating the individual patient. From there, the curriculum will grow more complex, gradually shifting from an individual to a community focus.

"The first semester a student could do a rotation in obstetrics, for example, where the emphasis is on wellness, not illness," says Pacini. "The second semester, the student might work in a mental health environment, where you're dealing with long-term rehabilitation and consulting with family members and others. By the third semester, the same student will be assigned to a community health care environment."

Although the program may draw the occasional poetry major, its target audience is individuals with science degrees who are likely to have completed prerequisite courses like microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, nutrition and physiology. Many candidates already work in health care.

Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate cumulative average, a minimum 2.5 GPA in all science courses, and a minimum composite score of 65 percent on the Nursing Entrance Test.

Response from potential students has been extremely positive so far and the School expects its inaugural class to be full. "The word of mouth," says Pacini, "has been unbelievable."

For more information on the Second Degree Program in Nursing, contact Christine Pacini at 313.993.6111 or