The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) has approved Western Illinois University’s request to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
The BSN degree, which was approved by Western’s Board in June, was created to meet the demand for additional education for nursing professionals in western Illinois. The 121- to 124-semester hour degree program will serve registered nurses who have completed an associate degree or a three-year diploma program.
“We are pleased that this new—and much needed—degree program was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education,” said President Al Goldfarb. “The Bachelor of Science in Nursing fits with the University’s strategic plan goal to enhance academic offerings. We look forward to working with the region’s healthcare facilities and community colleges to provide this quality academic program to their employees and students.”
Lea Monahan was named the first director of Western’s School of Nursing in July.
“This degree will add to, and enhance, the registered nurse’s basic knowledge of the nursing profession and provide them with the opportunity for career advancement,” Monahan said. “The program, which is a response to a critical shortage of trained professionals regionally and nationally, will be a valuable addition to the biological sciences department, the College of Arts and Sciences and the University.”
The program complements six health-related degree programs offered by WIU: undergraduate and graduate biological sciences programs and communication sciences and disorders programs; and the bachelor’s degree programs in health services management and clinical laboratory science.
“We have strong resources in place to support the new BSN program,” College of Arts and Sciences Dean Inessa Levi said. “This program fulfills the institution’s goal to positively impact our region by meeting the educational needs of our communities.”
Levi noted that several organizations were involved with the original program proposal, including officials from McDonough District Hospital, Carl Sandburg College, Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing, Spoon River College, Graham Hospital School of Nursing and John Wood Community College.
“The Macomb region is fortunate to have the long-standing Spoon River Associate Degree in Nursing program, which is vital in our success of meeting nurse staffing needs. Western’s new BSN program will provide us with another avenue for nurse recruitment, as well as provide an excellent opportunity for our current RN staff who wish to continue their education,” said Wanda Foster, vice president for nursing at McDonough District Hospital in Macomb. “We look forward to our continued working relationship with Western and to serving as an anchor clinical site for the new program.”
The University will begin the accreditation process with the Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.