S.O.N. Offers New Master's Program

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The School of Nursing now offers persons with other academic or professional backgrounds the opportunity to earn a master's degree in advanced practice nursing.

Introduced in the fall, the accelerated entry into nursing program easily met its first-year goal of enrolling 14 students, according to SON Associate Dean Loretta Higgins, and has attracted "an incredible number of inquiries."

Upon completing the two-year curriculum - which includes courses in pharmacology, nutrition, ethical reasoning and research - students will be able to take certification examinations for nurse practitioner in family and women's health, pediatrics and gerontology, and for clinical nurse specialist in adult health, and psychiatric and mental health.

"Nurse practitioners are in great demand, especially for primary care," said Higgins. "Providing a chance for people who have training in other areas to enter nursing is a benefit, I think, for both society and the profession itself."

Students in the program hold bachelor's degrees in fields such as religion, exercise physiology and psychology, Higgins said. Candidates are required to have previous coursework in anatomy and physiology, life science, chemistry, microbiology, sociology, psychology and statistics.

The program places emphasis on clinical and ethical judgment, and on students' development as leaders in nursing, Higgins said.

"It's a rigorous program but these students are highly motivated," she said. "They have given a great deal of thought to making this commitment. A number of them entered the health field, or had seriously considered it, and realized they wanted to become nurses. We feel this program gives them tools they need not only to enter the field, but to succeed and thrive in it."

Higgins points out that post-Civil War nursing programs also drew students with previous training in other disciplines, such as teaching.

"The life experience you bring with you," said Higgins, "will help make you a better nurse, a better decision-maker and leader."

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