How Milwaukee schools are solving nursing shortages by rethinking BSN education

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In response to increased demand for nurses and a shortage of nursing seats in traditional college programs, Milwaukee-based Cardinal Stritch and Mount Mary universities and the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay are working to develop alternative paths to a bachelor's degree in nursing, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The four-year schools are teaming up with five technical colleges across Wisconsin to offer degree programs that give students dual enrollment options. Students can take a variety of courses from each type of school, with all paths leading to a bachelor's in nursing degree. In this way, the dual enrollment streamlines nursing education so students do not have to transfer from a two-year school to a four-year school.  

The program, called NURSE 1-2-1, aims to offer more education options to increase the number of students pursuing nursing and capture the tuition students pay. Cost savings depend on how fast students move through the programs and whether they earn transfer credits through other colleges or advanced high school courses.

Additionally, students do not automatically pay less for classes they enroll in at the less expensive two-year college. For Mount Mary's program, this fall's tuition will be the same $520 per credit for classes, whether the classes are taken at the two-year college or Mount Mary, according to the Journal Sentinel.

However, Cardinal Stritch and UW-Green Bay set up their programs so students pay less for the technical college classes. 

Most of the program's students are ages 18 to 22, said Jennifer Schwahn, MSN, RN, a nursing adviser who coordinates the NURSE 1-2-1 program at UW-Green Bay. The program offers the same courses at UW-Green Bay as the courses nurses with a two-year degree take who want to complete their bachelor's in nursing.

"We know the nursing workforce is aging and retiring, we need more nurses, and employers are looking for BSN degree-holders," Ms. Schwahn said. 

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