Two weeks ago, Goshen College officially began its new partnership with Glen Oaks Community College. Registered nurses (RN) will now have the opportunity to take part in GC’s RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program on Glen Oak’s campus in Centreville, MI, making a bachelor’s degree for nurses in the surrounding area much more accessible.

“Glen Oaks wanted to expand their offerings,” said Brenda Srof, professor of nursing, “and make it more possible for their graduates to finish their bachelor’s degrees.”

Interest in obtaining a BSN has increased with the recent mandate from the Institute of Medicine calling for 80% of nurses to have a BSN by 2020. As a result, local hospitals such as Elkhart General Hospital and Memorial Hospital of South Bend are now requiring that all registered nurses obtain their BSN within three to five years of being hired.

“In the past, people from the southwestern Michigan area would drive all the way to GC to take a class,” said Vicky Kirkton, associate professor of nursing and NCP director at Glen Oaks. “RNs are very busy, so our goal is to provide them with the same programs and courses with the same quality, all within a reasonable driving distance.”

Nurses with an associate’s degree from an accredited college can complete this new program while working full time. All books and materials are included in the tuition cost and are brought to the classroom by the instructors. This RN to BSN program has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and its extension onto Glen Oak’s campus was approved earlier this past August.

In a recent press release, Dr. David Deveir, president of Glen Oaks Community College, said, “The community has expressed an interest in this program and we felt that this was the right time to move forward. We made contact with administrators at Goshen College last winter and we are delighted that we were able to pull this together in a fairly short amount of time. Goshen College is highly respected in the community for its nursing programs.”

Goshen’s RN to BSN program is flourishing after nearly ten years of being held on both GC’s campus and at Elkhart General Hospital, where around 340 students have graduated and completed their BSN. Students go through the program in a cohort style, moving through it as a group. They meet one night a week from six to ten p.m., completing forty credit hours in nineteen months.

Kirkton is optimistic about the growth of the new program in Michigan.

“Our hope is to build a pool of faculty from [the Glen Oaks community] that could provide the same quality of education,” said Kirkton, who is currently teaching the first course to twelve students this fall. Kirkton plans to bring the importance of GC’s core values to the students and set the pace for the rest of the program.

“I just think it speaks to the reputation we’ve developed with our students,” said Srof. “And to be invited there is a real honor. It opens up doors to other partnerships.”