Nursing program planning expansion

By Jordan Murray

Sports Editor

After the construction of a new building to house it, the School of Nursing is now planning a signifi­cant expansion. Currently the Bach­elor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program takes 88 students in each class. Silvana Richardson, dean of the School of Nursing, told Lumen that the plan is to add six more stu­dents for next year, and then eight additional students in each of the two years after that.

This means that the total capac­ity of the program for the 2014-2015 school year will be 110 students, a 25 percent increase on the current ca­pacity of the program.

The dietetics and nutrition pro­gram, also housed in the new nurs­ing building, will also be looking to expand the capacity of its coordi­nated program as well as its dietetic internship program. The program is also seeking to add a master’s pro­gram in dietetics and nutrition.

The master’s programs in nursing are also looking at expanding. Rich­ardson singled out the nurse educa­tor and advanced clinical nursing programs as those most likely to see an increase in enrollment. Overall the master’s programs will likely include 62-64 students, but Rich­ardson described those estimates as “more nebulous” than the BSN pro­gram’s.

Another goal of the School of Nursing is to start a doctorate pro­gram in nursing practice. This DNP program would begin within the next few years.

These changes come on the heels of a report from the Institute of Medicine that advocates an increase in the number of nurses holding bachelor degrees from 40 percent to 80 percent nationally. With this in mind, Richardson spoke of creating a seamless transition for students holding associate’s degrees to the master’s program. Viterbo is work­ing with Western Technical College to create a “pathway program” for Western’s students to build a bridge to Viterbo’s master’s programs.

Richardson sees the new nursing building as an incentive to draw in new students to fill these expanded programs. The building, however, has an impact on quality as well as quantity, and it’s already showing, she said.

For the first time in Viterbo’s nursing program, this year’s nurs­ing students have achieved mark­edly higher competence scores than in the past on tests to prepare for the RN exam, Richardson added. Pass­ing the RN exam is needed to be­come a registered nurse.

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