Mary Washington Hospital’s Community Benefit Fund has awarded the University of Mary Washington a $25,000 grant to create a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Program at the university.
The program, tentatively planned for fall 2014, will be designed for registered nurses who have graduated with an accredited associate’s degree or diploma nursing program. The grant supports the hiring of a consultant to help plan the curriculum. Approval for the program will come from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
“The university is delighted to be the recipient of the Mary Washington Hospital grant,” said President Richard Hurley. “The funding will be instrumental in developing this essential program to address the need for a highly educated nursing workforce and to improve the quality of healthcare in the region and the commonwealth.”
Marianna Bedway, chief nursing officer and senior vice president for Mary Washington Healthcare, said creation of an RN-BSN completion program will enhance and encourage further education of registered nurses in the region. Currently, only one-third of nurses in Virginia hold a baccalaureate degree and 11 percent have a master’s degree or higher.
“Mary Washington Healthcare provides some of the highest quality care in the country, and our nurses play a critical role in delivering that care. In order to respond to the demands of an evolving healthcare system and continue to meet the changing needs of patients, nurses must achieve higher levels of education,” she said.
According to the grant proposal, Virginia’s population is expected to climb by a million within the next 20 years, faster than the projected growth of registered nurses. By 2017, approximately 10,000 more registered nurses will be needed in the commonwealth, with an additional 30,000 needed by 2028. The need for additional nurses in the greater Fredericksburg area is expected to increase by 23 percent.
“There is great value in having baccalaureate-prepared nurses at Mary Washington Healthcare, and in this community. The program will afford nurses a unique opportunity to meet current standards of nursing, while enhancing the overall education experience within a liberal arts curriculum. We are excited to partner with the University of Mary Washington in support of this program,” said Bedway.
The UMW program is aimed at nurses within the Fredericksburg area planning district. The closest similar program is nearly 50 miles away at George Mason University.
“We anticipate that our BSN completion program will attract nurses in this region as well as graduates of local community colleges,” said Richard Finkelstein, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who will oversee implementation of the program at UMW. The university will hire a director who will act as the academic administrator.
Because the program is a completion curriculum, courses will not require UMW to create new labs or to purchase nursing-related equipment.
“This degree primarily engages students in courses that connect them to liberal arts perspectives on issues related to health care delivery,” said Finkelstein.