University of Jamestown to offer new nursing degree

When students return to a North Dakota college this fall, some will be in a new nursing program. Leaders say not only will it help with workforce shortages, the approach could set easier career pathways.

The University of Jamestown has announced a new degree offering focused on getting more bedside nurses out into regional hospitals and clinics. In partnering with various health providers, the school will open a learning center in Fargo later this year.

Polly Peterson, president of the university, said based on how the degrees are structured and other factors, prospective students might see them as manageable options in pursuing a new career.

"It is significant because of a new population that will be able to access nursing education in an accelerated fashion," Peterson explained.

One program is a "direct-entry" master’s in nursing. It is for those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to begin navigating the profession at an advanced level without taking certain undergrad courses. Peterson acknowledged such degrees are hard to find in the region.

North Dakota’s shortage woes aren’t as dire as in other states, but industry forecasters say by 2030, it is projected to meet only 84 percent of its nursing demand.

According to Peterson, the new initiative aims to lure nontraditional college students. In doing so, school leaders realize they cannot adhere to the traditional class schedule.

"These are people that are already probably working, need to continue to work," Peterson pointed out. "We’ve worked with several of the employers to offer flexible scheduling to allow for that learning to occur."

Peterson noted clinical settings are still an important part of nursing education. But she added the leaning center will lean on emerging technology, such as lifelike simulation dolls, to enhance the experience for students. The school anticipates over the next four years, the degree programs will produce about 350 new nurses.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

Prairie News Service