Topic: College of Applied Sciences and Technology

April 8, 2013

Ball State University's School of Nursing is partnering with Community Health Network, one of the state's largest health care systems, to create the Nursing Academy, an accelerated degree program designed to increase the number of registered nurses in Indiana and apply innovative approaches to better prepare student nurses for their transition to professional practice.

Scheduled to open in the fall, the Nursing Academy will offer its students a hybrid approach of learning through classes offered at Ball State, online and via video conferencing. Students also will work at hospitals within the Community Health Network, receiving on-the-job experience while being immersed in a clinical setting. The Community Health Network Foundation will fund partial scholarships for the 24 students representing the academy's inaugural class.

Linda Siktberg, director of Ball State's School of Nursing, says the three-year bachelor's degree program is designed to counter the loss of prospective students turned away each year from the state's nursing schools. According to the Indiana Nursing Workforce Development's 2010 Statewide Survey of Nursing Programs, more than 2,000 qualified nursing applicants were turned away from nursing schools in 2009 due to faculty shortages and/or a lack of clinical opportunities.

"As competition increases for these limited enrollment spots, qualified applicants may be turning to other career paths," Siktberg said. "The hard truth is the health care delivery systems cannot afford to lose potential nurses at this current rate."

Cindy Adams, chief nursing officer at Community Health Network, said partnerships like the newly formed Nursing Academy are a key solution to keeping up with the evolving landscape of health care in this nation and its unprecedented demands on the nursing workforce.

“There is a critical need to better prepare nursing students to provide high-quality health care for a growing and complex patient environment," she said.

Students interested in attending the Nursing Academy will first need to apply and be accepted into Ball State before applying for enrollment in the academy. Forty-eight students will be accepted into the program annually.