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Highland, Columbia College partner for nursing degree program

Freeport Journal Standard

Wednesday, May 16, 2018  |  Article  |  By Derrick Mason, Staff writer

Education--Higher (37) , Hospitals, Health Facilities Planning Board (48)
FREEPORT — A new transfer agreement between Highland Community College and Columbia College will allow nursing students to complete their bachelor’s degree from the comfort of their own homes. Students who earn registered nursing degrees ( RN) through Highland will be able to complete their bachelor’s degree (BSN) through online classes offered by Columbia. The agreement was signed Tuesday. Through the program, students will be able to work in their field, while furthering their education. “What we’re seeing now is a push for a bachelor’s degree in nursing in our local area and beyond for the magnet hospitals and the hospitals that are looking to climb toward that status of excellence,” said Jennifer Grobe, Highland’s associate dean of nursing and allied health. “ We agree that our students need to continually learn whether it’s formally or informally, so we’re encouraging them to go back to school to learn and refine their critical- thinking skills and to really master the advanced assessments.” Students are able to apply for the program right away and have already been encouraged to set up meetings with Columbia, Grobe said. A Columbia academic adviser will work with students to create a four-year plan. Those who have already graduated from Highland’s program are eligible to transfer. The agreement should save students time and money, said Sarah Goeke, director of Columbia College in Freeport. “Because we’re all online, they can start and stop - they have flexibility,” Goeke said. “Because we have such a good agreement, we’ve eliminated a lot of the redundancies that could potentially happen, so they are able to get done as quickly as possible, which ends up saving the student a lot of money in the long run.” The agreement could help combat a local and national nursing shortage, Grobe said. She attributed the shortage to a lack of seats available in schools that provide nursing education, as well as a low number of educators. “We can provide more room,” she said. “We have the facilities here, but if we don’t have the masters and doctorally prepared educators to educate the students, then we don’t have the nurses available to work in the community. “We’re working at chipping away at that by providing the BSN opportunities and hoping that the students will go on, earn their masters and stay locally.” Highland now has 12 articulation agreements with colleges and universities, which assures transferring students that their general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree in their program have been satisfied at the participating institution. Highland graduates can also transfer to any other four-year university. “We’ve actually doubled the number of transfer agreements we have here at Highland with the four-year institutions within just the last five or six years,” said Highland President Tim Hood. “ It’s a trend that you’ll continue to see increase.”