Filling a Major Need
Multiple colleges offer programs to train nurses.
Wisconsin is experiencing a shortage of trained nurses, and the rapidly evolving health care profession requires more people who have four-year or advanced nursing degrees. The following schools are working to fulfill these needs and train students who are dedicated to patient care.
MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF NURSING
“If you’ve experienced nursing care,” says Janet Wessel Krejci, “and you’ve experienced someone who really connects with you and knows how to manage your individual health journey successfully, that’s a very, very powerful experience.”
Krejci, dean and professor at Marquette University’s College of Nursing, wants graduates of the school to give their patients that kind of experience. Krejci, who returned to Marquette in January after teaching there from 1998 to 2009, touts the breadth of the school’s nursing programs – including baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral – along with nurse practitioner specialties, a nurse midwifery program and a planned nurse anesthesia program.
These programs, she says, emphasize Jesuit educational values of leadership, service, faith and excellence. Which all comes back to the program’s central focus: Nursing education at Marquette is a “transformational journey” for its students, she says, “so that Marquette nurses, whether they’re caring for someone in a hospital in an underserved area or another country, provide scientific, evidence-based, safe and outcome-driven care with a focus on the whole person.”
UWM COLLEGE OF NURSING
The College of Nursing at UW-Milwaukee is the state’s largest nursing school, and it’s dedicated to playing a crucial role in southeastern Wisconsin.
“We stay true to our mission of being a major, urban doctoral research university meeting the diverse needs of Wisconsin’s largest metropolitan area,” says Kim Litwack, dean and professor at the college. “We are committed to the concept of community engagement, in practice and research. We provide a wide array of degree programs with world-renowned faculty with expertise in pediatrics, women’s health, vulnerable populations, geriatrics, quality and safety, among others.”
There are also new and innovative areas of study, including a new Master in Nursing program, which prepares students with degrees other than nursing for nurse leadership roles, and the unique Master in Sustainable Peacebuilding program, which helps prepare its graduates to be “change-makers” throughout the world.
“We prepare strong graduates from all programs,” says Litwack, “providing caregivers who will meet the care needs of individuals, families and populations, educators who will advance the next generation of students, as well as nurse scholars who will advance nursing science.”
The Milwaukee Area Technical College is undergoing a major expansion of its nursing education program, thanks to a $2.3 million grant from the United Health Foundation.
“The projected shortage of registered nurses has been identified as one of the greatest workforce challenges facing the health-care industry,” said Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MATC president. “Partnering with the United Health Foundation to prepare the next generation of registered nurses will have a profound impact on students, the health care industry and the communities we both proudly serve.”
The grant, announced in January, enables MATC to double enrollment in its nursing program beginning in fall 2017, increase capacity to graduate an additional 100 students by year three, hire 16 new nursing program instructors and support recruitment of low-income students.
“Nurses are in very high demand,” says Valencia Reyes, who graduated from the program in May but landed a nursing job a month before. “There are many job openings now. I’ve heard this from other nursing students, too. When managers find out you are graduating from MATC, they really want to talk with you about working for them.”
Reyes, who met former second lady Jill Biden at MATC’s graduation, adds: “This expansion will help more students like me pursue their dreams of becoming a nurse.”
Dr. Carol Sabel, who’s been chair for a year of the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s School of Nursing, says she was impressed when she arrived with the school’s “huge belief in hands-on learning.”
“Our simulation center is just wonderful,” she says, and it’s used extensively in the curriculum, both for clinical instruction and in the classroom – something she attributes partly to the fact that the school is part of an institution of higher learning in engineering.
The nursing school has 250 students, most of them undergrads. It has an accelerated bachelor’s in nursing “second-track” program, in which students who have their degrees in subjects other than nursing can qualify for a bachelor of nursing in just 18 months. Plus there’s an MSN program in health systems management that combines nursing classes with management classes in MSOE’s Rader School of Business.
As for the simulation center, it’s equipped with high-fidelity manikins for the students to practice on, with separate units for different medical specialties. Professors can watch the students’ actions from behind one-way mirrors, and speak to them through the manikin, as if the patient were talking directly to them. “It’s an up and coming way of educating nursing students,” she says.
UW-OSHKOSH COLLEGE OF NURSING
There is a push in the nursing profession to increase the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees. Dr. Judith Westphal sees that push at work at UW-Oshkosh’s College of Nursing.
“There has been an explosion of knowledge in health care” in recent years, Westphal says, and bachelor’s degrees equip graduating nurses with the skills and ability to provide safe care and pick up the nuances and changes in patients’ condition.
UW-Oshkosh has several ways of getting to that bachelor’s degree. Most of its undergraduate nursing students, 509, are in a traditional nurse education program aimed at a bachelor of science in nursing, Westphal says, but substantial numbers
are in an accelerated BSN program, for people who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields, that allows them to get the BSN in just a year. Others are in the school’s BSN at Home program, which allows them to do course and clinical work remotely. The college also has
170 graduate students working toward becoming nurse educators, family nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse leaders.
MOUNT MARY UNIVERSITY
In response to the demand for quality nursing in the southeastern Wisconsin region and beyond, Mount Mary University offers an RN to BSN Completion program.
Mount Mary’s program for working professionals has been constructed with an emphasis on health care-specific leadership skills needed to prepare nurses for supervisory, administrative and other management roles. The program is open to both women and men, and can be done entirely online.
“The health care industry needs bold nurses who can lead with confidence to provide the exceptional and unique care that nurses bring to patients,” says Cheryl Bailey, dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences. “We have created a program that places tremendous value on the real-world experience of our student-professionals.”
The leadership-focused curriculum includes topics directly relevant to the health care industry, such as communication, technology, ethics, patient-care, nutrition, business and advocacy.
Nursing simulation at Marquette University
MATC’s Valencia Reyes meets graduation speaker Jill Biden.