The University of Central Florida College of Nursing has formed a strategic hospital partnership with Health First, Brevard County’s largest private employer, to offer an on-site RN-to-BSN program.
This public-private partnership will help meet a national objective set by the National Academy of Medicine in its landmark “The Future of Nursing” report, according to a news release. The report recommends increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020.
“Throughout its history, UCF has sought out strategic partnerships in its community to provide innovative educational opportunities,” UCF College of Nursing Dean Mary Lou Sole, PhD, RN, CCNS, CNL, FAAN, FCCM, said in the release. “By partnering with Health First, we are able to answer a national call for more BSN-educated nurses and make it easier for RNs in Brevard County to obtain an advanced degree.”
Health First will offer classroom space for the UCF program at its education center in Melbourne and will help fund a faculty member to serve as an instructor and adviser for the program. Additionally, Health First recently increased its tuition benefit for eligible associates and the Health First Foundation is offering scholarship opportunities to cover tuition.
“We are pleased to be able to provide our nursing associates convenient access to the nationally ranked program at UCF,” Connie Bradley, DNP, RN, FACHE, senior vice president and CNO at Health First said in the release. “This is an exciting partnership that will benefit not only our nurses, but also the communities we serve by providing a higher percentage of BSN-prepared nurses to care for our patients and members across our integrated delivery network.”
UCF has been educating Brevard County nurses for more than 30 years at its Cocoa campus and is the only public institution to offer a BSN degree in the county. The traditional BSN program is offered in a classroom setting, while the RN-to-BSN is the first in the state to be offered fully online, according to the release.
Through the Health First partnership, the traditionally online RN-to-BSN program will be taught in a hybrid format of face-to-face classroom and online classes to ease students into the program. The program is designed to provide a cohort of students to complete it together. It will be open to all RNs in the community, not just those employed by Health First. Prospective students may apply Sept. 1–Oct. 1. Classes will begin in spring 2016.