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Worcester State’s New RN-to-BSN Program Recognized its Success

November 14, 2013
By: Renae Lias Claffey

At a recent visit to the UMass Memorial Medical Center, two nurses who work there told Department of Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland and Worcester State University President Barry Maloney that a new Worcester State RN-to-BSN program is meeting their needs to advance their careers and better serve patients.

Charles Trudell and Deborah Messier – both RNs with the UMass Memorial Health Care system – said that they would have been unable to pursue a bachelor’s degree except that the “blended” program is offered on-site at UMass Memorial.

“Under Associate Dean of Nursing Stephanie Chalupka’s leadership, we are addressing a critical workforce need in Central Massachusetts,” said Freeland, whose department supports the program with a Nursing and Allied Health grant. “This new pathway for associate degree-prepared nurses to the BSN is a ‘best practice’ for university-hospital partnerships that is attracting interest as a statewide and national model.”

“We know from the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing, that transforming the nursing profession is critically important in the effort to achieve the nation’s vision of an effective, affordable healthcare system that is accessible and responsive to all. We at Worcester State University are committed to working with our partners in healthcare to increase educational opportunities for students and practicing nurses.”

Under the new model, which was initiated in 2012, students take classes at their workplace. Evening classes accommodate their schedules and a tuition reimbursement program helps them cover costs.

“This program meets a Massachusetts workforce need, while heeding a call from the Institute of Medicine to ensure that 80 percent of the nursing workforce has at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020,” said Chalupka. “By emphasizing leadership, population health, and the translation of research into practice, baccalaureate education prepares nurses to function more effectively in today’s evolving healthcare environment.”

Chalupka noted that the program has exceeded its student enrollment goals and is expanding to other area hospitals that are part of the UMass Memorial Health Care system. “Still, we have plenty of work to do,” she says. “Only 52% of the nurses in Central Massachusetts are currently prepared at the baccalaureate or higher degree level.”

“Worcester State has been awesome in supporting our nurses, some of whom haven’t been to school in 30 years,” says Cathy Jewell, Associate Chief Nursing Officer at UMass Memorial Medical Center, who also was on-hand for the visit.


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