Nursing: it’s a noble profession. And now, thanks to a partnership between West Hills College Lemoore and University of Phoenix, it takes those looking to help others less time to get started in a career in nursing.
Through a partnership with University of Phoenix, West Hills College Lemoore nursing students have been earning units toward a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degree in a concurrent enrollment program. This concurrent enrollment program helps to meet the needs of industry partners who have expressed a need for BSN-educated nurses.
WHCL nursing students working on their Associate’s Degree in Nursing are eligible to take courses through University of Phoenix as part of the Transfer Pathway-Concurrent Enrollment Program. WHCL students who are enrolled in the concurrent enrollment program graduate already enrolled in a BSN program that can be complete in less than a year. This provides the WHCL nursing graduate additional marketability for employment and is part of a large movement within community college nursing programs to have strong concurrent enrollment programs.
West Hills College Lemoore began its concurrent enrollment partnership with University of Phoenix to support the Institute of Medicine 2011 Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health focus on the need to support higher levels of education and training through education that promotes seamless academic progression. The goal is to have 80% Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or higher across all nursing roles by the year 2020.
“The goal will be that every student who graduates from our nursing program will either be close to completion of their BSN upon graduating from our program or at the minimum enrolled to continue their BSN immediately after graduation,” said WHCL Director of Health Careers and Director of Nursing Kathryn DeFede, RN MSN. “Current statistics show ADN nursing graduates take on an average of 10 years to complete their BSN post-ADN graduation. That needs to change as our health care environment is becoming more complex and roles are changing in nursing on a continual basis. These new roles require nurses to have BSN degrees.”
The partnership with University of Phoenix began in 2016. Students admitted to the nursing program have the option to enroll with UOPx and take UOPx courses during their breaks from the WHCL program. Upon graduation with their ADN from WHCL, students take their NCLEX-RN licensing exam and continue their BSN education with UOPx for completion of that degree. The degree can be completed in less than one year of graduation from WHCL.
The first BSN UOPx cohort graduates graduated from WHCL in May of 2016 and completed their BSN with UOPx in April of 2017.
Currently, over 40% of WHCL’s first-year nursing students are participating in this partnership with University of Phoenix, and it continues to grow. Graduates of the WHCL concurrent enrollment program have given the program stellar reviews, including Erin Chieze, who graduated from West Hills in 2017 and University of Phoenix in 2018.
“Before my graduation from West Hills, I had multiple job offers,” she said. “The employers knew the quality education I received from West Hills would give me the skills needed to be safe and competent new graduate nurse, but the concurrent program showed I had the drive to really push myself in furthering my education. University of Phoenix provided a challenging program with experienced instructors. I gained a well-rounded education that prepared me to become the nurse I am today.”
Megan Sanchez, WHC 2017, UoP 2018, also praised the program and the flexibility it gave her.
“West Hills College and University of Phoenix provided me the opportunity to finish my BSN faster than a traditional BSN program which was amazing for me because I am a wife and a mother,” she said. “It was an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful that this is in place.”
University of Phoenix is also pleased with the initial results of the program.
“At University of Phoenix, we strive to improve the lives of students, their families and future generations through higher education,” said Kaeli Dutrow, Community College Strategy Manager for the College of Health Professions at University of Phoenix. “The partnership with West Hills College Lemoore and the addition of the concurrent enrollment program is another way the University aims to accomplish this mission.”
Director of Health Careers and Director of Nursing Kathryn DeFede, RN MSN, explained that partnerships like this have become vitally important. The department is currently revisiting their nursing curriculum to support more concurrent enrollment options.
“I expect we will have numerous partnerships with a variety of four year universities within the next few years,” she said. “They will each have their own pathway and students will have a variety of options to participate. Some pathways will be shorter than others, but the option to participate will be increasing over time. This is a very exciting time for nursing education at the Community College level and specifically WHCL nursing program. We appreciate the partnership we have with UOPx and the success it has brought our students and program. We look forward to growing our program with concurrent enrollment as part of our ongoing success.”
Kathryn DeFede with the graduates