Nursing students will be offered a streamlined path to an advanced degree, under a new agreement between Illinois Central College and Illinois State University.
The partnership grants students who complete their registered nurse (RN) certification at ICC automatic enrollment into the bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) program at ISU.
Leaders from both schools signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the collaboration Friday.
Emmanuel Awuah, vice president of academic affairs at ICC, said it's meant to address the huge workforce gap in nursing.
“There’s a huge deficit in terms of the production and graduation of nurses in the community to serve us,” he said. “Today, the discussion that we’re having is not just about signing something. It’s about keeping our communities safe and healthy.”
About ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine set a goal of increasing the percentage of nurses with bachelor's degrees to 80 percent by 2020 — up from about 55 and 60 percent.
That’s according to Judy Neubrander, dean of ISU's Mennonite College of Nursing.
“We probably aren’t going to reach that completely, but this agreement gets us further down that path,” she said.
Awuah added the agreement will make earning an advanced degree in nursing more affordable for students — and easier to complete on time.
Editor's note: Emmanuel Awuah's last name's spelling has been corrected from a previous version of this story.