Stephens College and Boone Hospital Center announced a new accelerated nursing program during a press conference Wednesday.
The program, called the Stephens College Boone Hospital Nursing Program, will be an accelerated three-year Bachelor of Science program, according to a joint news release from Boone Hospital Center and Stephens College.
Dianne Lynch, president of Stephens College, introduced the program, calling it “what can happen when two very different organizations, each with its own strengths, expertise and mission, come together to address the workforce needs of our community.”
Jim Sinek, president of Boone Hospital Center and a Stephens College Board of Trustees member, said Lynch approached him with the idea of launching a nursing program nearly two years ago.
According to the Missouri Hospital Association’s 2019 Workforce Report, central Missouri had 350 vacant registered nurse positions and 3,471 employed registered nurses as of January 2019. According to the 2019 Missouri Nursing Workforce Report, “over one-third of RNs (33.9%, or 31,731) are age 55 and older, and may be retired or thinking about retiring in the near future.”
“The demand for nurses far outpaces the supply of new graduates from all of the state’s nursing programs,” Lynch said.
She commended both MU and Columbia College for their “high quality” nursing programs.
Zora Mulligan, Missouri’s commissioner of higher education, said the state Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant, a financial aid program for adults that began with the 2019-20 school year, could be available for students in the new nursing program.
Last year, the Fast Track program was approved for public institutions in the state. Mulligan said this year “the governor’s recommendations do include money that would support students at private colleges and universities.” However, this does not guarantee the use of financial aid from the Fast Track program for the new nursing program.
“It covers the full cost of education for people who are going back (to college) to earn a degree in a high-demand occupation,” Mulligan said.
Lynch said Stephens College is “already getting calls from prospective students.”
Leslie Willey, vice president of academic affairs at Stephens, said in the release that the program hopes to welcome a class of 20 students in the fall for the 2020-21 school year.
The nursing program has already been approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and is now under review by the Higher Learning Commission, Lynch said.
“We are very confident that it will meet and exceed our reviewer’s requirements and expectations,” she said.
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