This partnership and concurrent enrollment program aims to help provide 80 percent of nurses in the workforce with a Bachelor of Sciencein Nursing by 2020.

NEWPORT NEWS, VA —In an effort to further promote collegiate-level nursing education and increase the number of highly qualified nurses treating patients throughout the Riverside Health System –including the Virginia Peninsula, Middle Peninsula, Richmond, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore –the Riverside School of Health Careers will begin partnering with Old Dominion University's (ODU) School of Nursing in 2015 to create a concurrent enrollment program.

Under the collaboration, announced this month by ODU and Riverside, Riverside's diploma program will be replaced by an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program (accreditation approvals pending). Eligible ODU students would have the option of taking their nursing courses at ODU or Riverside. This collaboration allows ODU to offer double the current number of nursing student placements. After completing the AAS with Riverside and passing their National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing, students would then be fast-tracked to finish their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree within one to two semesters at ODU.

ODU Nursing School Riverside Sign Partnership Agreement

The five-year, renewable agreement between ODU and Riverside will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. Infrastructure planning will take place during 2015 and program admission is anticipated to officially start in January 2016.

"We have a rich history of working with ODU in nursing," said Riverside Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Terris Kennedy. "This further solidifies that relationship with a program that 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. Riverside is committed to meet the Institute of Medicine's recommendation stated in their Future of Nursing report to have 80 percent of our registered nurse workforce with BSN degrees by 2020."

Since 1916, Riverside has provided nursing education for more than 2,800 registered nurses.   In addition, Riverside offers certificate and degree programs in Practical Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Surgical Technology and Physical Therapist Assisting.

"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 in the workforce very quickly because we have expedited their path to that degree."

Riverside School of Nursing and ODU Sign Partnership Agreement

Karlowicz, one of the program's architects, said ODU and Riverside have already received a $6,000 Academic Pilot Progression grant award for faculty and curriculum 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.

"What makes this program special is the willingness of ODU to respect the goals of Riverside Health System and its Professional Nursing Program 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 respectful of what the needs of our students are and what the goals of both organizations are in terms of providing 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 hope that students who graduate from this concurrent enrollment partnership program with Riverside will look to ODU for their graduate education," Karlowicz said. "And if not ODU, with another excellent graduate program in the state of Virginia."

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Published: December 24, 2014