The University of Mary Washington has received a significant boost to its nursing program with a $1.4 million grant to establish a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. The University also received accreditation to its existing bachelor of science in nursing-completion program.
The grant, provided by the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation, will enable UMW to establish a MSN degree, with a family nurse practitioner track (MSN-FNP). Classes are expected to begin January 2019, following approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The program, which takes 27 months to complete, will enroll 15 students each year.
In addition, UMW’s BSN-completion program recently received accreditation from CCNE, which ensures the quality and integrity of nursing education. Begun in 2014 with a $25,000 grant from the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation, the program has three different pathways and enrolls nearly 90 students.
“The BSN-completion program was designed for nurses with an associate in applied science degree in nursing to be able to seamlessly progress their education to the baccalaureate level,” said Pamela McCullough, director of UMW’s nursing program. According to McCullough, the University will be expanding its affiliation agreements to all Virginia Community College System nursing programs as the VCCS is moving toward a common nursing curriculum.
UMW also will offer a fully online option to the present hybrid program, McCullough said. Courses are being revised to meet the needs of this non-traditional student population.
“We are delighted to have received accreditation for our BSN degree,” said Richard Finkelstein, dean of the UMW College of Arts and Sciences. “The new grant from the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation, for an MSN degree, strongly affirms the quality of our nursing program.”
The latest grant includes $200,000 in start-up funds and $1.2 million in scholarship/loan support over five years for students in the program. The curriculum is targeted to registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who can continue working part time at Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC).
“The program will have a significant impact on the primary care shortage in the community,” said Eileen L. Dohmann, chief nursing officer for MWHC. The initiative will produce about 75 family nurse practitioners from the first five classes.
A recent physician development plan conducted by the healthcare agency identified a shortage of between 30 and 60 primary care physicians in the Fredericksburg area over the next five years, said Dohmann, who approached UMW about establishing the program.
“Graduates of UMW’s family nurse practitioner track will help meet the primary care demands of the community,” said Dohmann.
Advanced-practice nursing has expanded to provide access to health care as research has supported the quality of patient outcomes achieved by nurse practitioners, she said. Nurse practitioners focus on disease prevention and health promotion, in addition to identifying and treating acute and chronic health conditions. They are certified through a national examination process, licensed by the nursing and medical boards of the commonwealth and required to participate in ongoing education.
The scholarship/loan award would cover about half of the program’s financial-aid expenses, Dohmann said. The grant allows the loan to be forgiven for those students who work for three years as a family nurse practitioner in the Fredericksburg community.
“Our region is unique in that the healthcare institution and the university are working collaboratively to increase the educational level of our registered nurses, and developing them to be proficient advanced-practice nurses,” said McCullough. “We share the goal of providing access and improving the health of the community as a whole.”