DIXON – Local nurses next fall will have a convenient way to continue their education.
Sauk Valley Community College has partnered with Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford to offer associate-degree-trained nurses the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degrees.
Nurses who have their associate degree are employable, but nurses who have a bachelor’s degree are that much more marketable, said Janet Lynch, dean of health professions at Sauk.
“That’s where the industry is going,” Lynch said. “Patient care is getting more difficult. Patients are more critically ill. The additional education is beneficial ... and some indicate it enhances patient outcomes.”
Many regional hospitals, such as those in Rockford, hire only bachelor’s degree-trained nurses, added Kristie Geil, chief nursing officer at CGH Medical Center in Sterling.
A bachelor’s degree not only makes a nurse more employable, but also opens the door to leadership positions within a health care facility and within a community, Geil said. An advanced degree also makes it easier for a nurse to seek higher positions, such as nurse practitioner, or to become an educator, she added.
Students are expected to be already-employed nurses who want to further their education, Lynch said. But some students, naturally, will be recent associate-degree-program graduates, too, she said.
Local nurses want to further their education.
“The biggest inhibitor is travel,” Geil said. “They’re single moms or busy moms. And they wanted something where they could get their degree but not have to travel so far to get it.”
Saint Anthony held informational meetings with local nurses at CGH and KSB Hospital in Dixon. Dozens turned out with interest in the new, local program, Lynch said.
Classes – an additional 28 credit hours – will be offered in person at Sauk and online (alternating Thursdays), but taught by Saint Anthony instructors at Saint Anthony’s tuition rate.
Local hospitals also want their nurses to further their education because it stems the need to recruit trained professionals from outside the community and fosters a culture of learning and leadership in the area.
“Our best bet is to grow our professionals locally,” Geil said.
Meeting for those interested
An informational meeting on the Bachelor of Science in nursing program at Sauk Valley Community College will be held at 5:30 p.m. July 11, in room 2K2. Call 815-288-5511 for more information.