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ODU to Partner with Riverside School of Health Careers on Nursing Program

Old Dominion University's School of Nursing is partnering with the Riverside School of Health Careers to create a concurrent enrollment program intended to increase the number of highly qualified nurses educated in Hampton Roads.

Riverside has provided entry-level education for registered nurse students for almost 100 years. Under the new collaboration with ODU, Riverside's diploma will be replaced by an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree through classes provided by Riverside. Participating students will be fast-tracked to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by taking ODU nursing courses concurrently with Riverside nursing courses. Completion of the BSN degree would occur one to two semesters after attaining the AAS and licensure as registered nurse.

"There is an initiative nationwide to have 80 percent of the nursing workforce with a BSN by 2020," said Karen Karlowicz, associate professor and chair of ODU's School of Nursing. "Through this partnership, we will be able to get more nurses with a BSN into the workforce more quickly because we have expedited their path to that degree."

Karlowicz, one of the program's architects, said ODU and Riverside have already received a $6,000 Academic Pilot Progression grant award for faculty development from the Virginia Action Coalition, a joint initiative of the Virginia Nurses Foundation and AARP Virginia, which will assist in preparing both faculty groups for the launch of the program.

The five-year, renewable agreement between ODU and Riverside will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. ODU and Riverside will jointly review applications for full-time admission to the pre-licensure BSN program at 0DU as well as applicants for full-time admission to the Riverside School of Nursing. Once admitted to Riverside, students will be concurrently enrolled at ODU. Infrastructure planning will take place during 2015, and program admission will officially start in January 2016.

Riverside and ODU's School of Nursing believe this collaboration will accomplish three main goals:

  • Establish a formal partnership between Riverside and ODU to promote BSN education
  • Fast-track completion of the BSN degree for students enrolled in Riverside's AAS degree program
  • Encourage BSN grads to pursue graduate education in nursing

Karlowicz has been working on the program for about three years with Dr. Terris Kennedy, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Riverside.

"We have a rich history of working with ODU in nursing," said Kennedy, who has been with Riverside for 10 years. "This further solidifies that relationship. This program is a win-win.

"Through this partnership, we at Riverside can continue to reinforce the strength of what we've been doing for almost 100 years."

Karlowicz couldn't agree more.

"What makes this program special is the willingness of ODU to respect the goals of Riverside Health System and its School of Professional Nursing and the willingness of Riverside to make changes that fit with ODU's requirements for admission to the BSN program," Karlowicz said. "We are both very committed to the needs of our students and the goals of both organizations to provide a quality nursing education."

ODU's School of Nursing is one of five schools in the College of Health Sciences. Shelley Mishoe, dean of the College of Health Sciences, praised the teamwork demonstrated by Karlowicz, Kennedy and others on the team.

"This collaboration is ideal to give more students the chance to earn their BSN, drawing from the large pool of applicants to ODU's program, while enhancing the nursing workforce in our region," Mishoe said.

ODU has educated more than 6,000 nurses in baccalaureate, masters and doctor in nursing practice programs since 1967. For more than 25 years, it has provided RN-to-BSN distance education to students in local and rural communities in Virginia. The School of Nursing is fully accredited by the Collegiate Commission of Nursing Education.

Aside from boosting the number of nurses with BSNs and streamlining the degree process for students enrolled in Riverside's AAS degree program, Karlowicz also is encouraged by the graduate study possibilities.

"We anticipate that students who graduate from this concurrent enrollment partnership program with Riverside will look to ODU for their graduate education," Karlowicz said.

A signing ceremony for the partnership was held Monday, Dec. 22, at ODU.

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