Worcester State University and Fitchburg State University are developing a novel program to build a seamless bridge program for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) to earn their baccalaureate degree in nursing. Nursing faculty from the universities are collaborating with three LPN programs administrators whose programs are offered in vocational/technical schools.
Grants awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education ($50,000) and Fairlawn Foundation/Greater Worcester Community Foundation ($169,200 over three years) have supported the planning efforts for the new program. “This collaboration is an excellent example of our institutions working together to find new ways to serve students,” Fitchburg State University President Robert V. Antonucci said.
Worcester State University President Barry M. Maloney noted, “This collaborative initiative will help nurses move to the next level in their profession and play a significant role in enhancing quality healthcare in Massachusetts.”
Worcester State University Provost Charles Cullum added, “We are pleased to work with Fitchburg State University to offer flexible, quality programs to our students.”
Linda McKay, who chairs the nursing program at Fitchburg State, and Andrea Wallen, past chair of the nursing program at Worcester State, have been collaborating with nursing leadership at three Vocational Practical Nursing Programs in Central Mass: Holly LaFrance, (Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical), Ellen Santos and Rose Veith (Assabet Valley Regional Technical), and Deborah Henderson (Bay Path Regional Regional Vocational ).
The end result will be an accelerated standalone LPN-to-BS in Nursing program at Fitchburg State and Worcester State universities. “This is a unique approach and opportunity promoting workforce development and upward mobility for the Licensed Practice Nurse,” said Wallen. “The LPN-BS program supports the development of an improved education system, which is a goal identified by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their Future of Nursing report.”
“Another positive outcome of this project will be a program that other baccalaureate programs across the state may choose to replicate,” said McKay. “A program to share this information with other nursing programs will be held in late spring 2012.” With the grant support, the program is expected to run in pilot form in September 2012, with a cohort of 30 students at the Fitchburg and Worcester campuses.
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