Upper Iowa University and Northeast Iowa Community College signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nov. 4 that will create a new Nursing Concurrent Enrollment Program (CEP) for students, the first agreement of its kind in the state of Iowa.
The Nursing CEP agreement allows students at NICC to complete a four-year degree in nursing from Upper Iowa University. While completing a two-year associate degree in nursing at the NICC Calmar or Peosta campus, students in the CEP cohort are concurrently enrolled in Upper Iowa University courses toward their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Concurrent enrollment allows students who graduate with their associate degree from NICC to attend Upper Iowa University for approximately six to eight additional months to complete their BSN degree.
“This agreement represents a longstanding shared vision that UIU and NICC have for northeast Iowa,” said Upper Iowa University President Dr. William R. Duffy. “This is but one example of how we can join efforts to provide a seamless education that brings together the best that both institutions have to offer.”
“This collaboration enables nursing students to get the hands-on education they need to build their skill set, along with the BSN degree they need to advance their career into management, teaching and similar fields,” added Duffy. “There is incredible demand for skilled nurses today, and this partnership helps fulfill that demand.”
NICC President Dr. Liang Chee Wee praised the new agreement for its innovative approach to meeting the needs of students and helping to further their careers, as well as the benefits for healthcare employers in northeast Iowa.
“On behalf of our students, I thank President Duffy for his leadership in this innovative partnership,” emphasized Dr. Wee. “This Nursing Concurrent Enrollment Program agreement between Upper Iowa University and Northeast Iowa Community College will create advancement opportunity for our students and will support our healthcare workforce. Through this collaboration by leveraging our shared resources, NICC students will complete their four-year degree more affordably and be prepared to advance in their careers as healthcare professionals.”
Because many nurses are nearing retirement in northeast Iowa, healthcare providers – hospitals, clinics and medical offices – are desperate for licensed, highly skilled registered nurses to fill current and projected employment openings.
A consortium agreement of this nature also maximizes financial aid to each student’s benefit. The overall cost of education for CEP students tends to be less than that of 2+2 programs, and Upper Iowa University tuition for this program is free of extra fees, such as technology, health or lab fees, according to UIU Director of Nursing Education Dr. Virginia Wangerin.
“I could not be happier that our first Iowa concurrent enrollment partner is Northeast Iowa Community College,” Wangerin expressed. “I have great respect for their leadership, faculty and graduates. NICC is an excellent example of the central role that community colleges play in preparing the nursing workforce. They have a long history of quality and their graduates deliver great care. I commend them for providing a new and innovative path to the baccalaureate degree that is seamless, less expensive and more convenient than traditional transfer programs. Responding to growing evidence that a more educated nursing workforce provides safer care and better health outcomes, this partnership between UIU and NICC is truly a benefit to the entire community.”
Nursing CEP cohort students may earn a BSN from Upper Iowa University without having to leave the local area of the Calmar or Peosta campus because the final year of the program through Upper Iowa University is 100 percent online, explained NICC Vice President of Student Learning and Success Dr. Kathleen Nacos-Burds.
“Our agreement with the university reinforces the importance of lifelong learning, rigorous study and nursing skills development, and also creates a tremendous opportunity for our Associate Degree of Nursing students to complete a four-year degree,” said Nacos-Burds. “This is a unique partnership between a four-year and two-year program that seamlessly aligns the associate degree to the baccalaureate curriculum to facilitate advanced careers in nursing. Whether students begin with us at the Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar campus or the Peosta campus, they may now complete a BSN more affordably and in a shorter time. This allows our students to live locally near campus and work in healthcare settings while earning their degree.”
Upper Iowa University’s educational programs merge today’s workforce needs, technology and trends into an advanced curriculum that provides graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful and stay current in their career. Specifically, BSN nursing graduates will absorb new ideas and discover best practices they can then take back to their employer to the benefit of patients and fellow nursing staff. The RN-BSN program at Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Administration officials signing the agreement and attending the event include UIU President Dr. William R. Duffy, NICC President Dr. Liang Chee Wee, UIU Director of Nursing Dr. Virginia “Ginny” Wangerin, UIU Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics Dr. Rich Bleil, NICC Vice President of Learning and Student Success Dr. Nacos-Burds and NICC Director of Nursing Susan Schneider.