To thrive in the 21st century, a community needs a creative culture, an educated, vigorous society, robust economic growth, and a healthy, productive natural environment.
– UW-Stevens Point Strategic Plan
The goals of the strategic plan are clear; now it’s time to put the plan into action. The initial stage of the strategic plan is the Healthy Communities Initiative, focusing on nurturing the well being of our citizens through first-rate professional programs in health care and wellness. The initiative is intended as a public-private partnership focusing on the existing strengths of the university’s curriculum.
One of the main goals of the Healthy Communities Initiative is to create a variety of academic pathways for students in the region—especially first-generation, underrepresented minority and adult populations—to enter health-related fields.
One of those fields is nursing. The UWSP School of Health Care Professions (SHCP) historically has offered the pre-nursing major, wherein students are advised for admission to the UW-Eau Claire College of Nursing program with its satellite program in Marshfield. The next goal for SHCP is to add a RN-BSN program, wherein registered nurses holding the associate’s degree in nursing can obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).
•Point of Pride•
The School of Health Care Professions
connects with the local health care industry through our Health Care and Clinical Lab Sciences advisory committees, which are comprised of health care professionals representing the major health care providers. These groups keep our academic programs focused on the health care, business and personnel needs of Central Wisconsin.
Assistant Professor Carole Paulson, Ed.D., MSN, RN, headed recent efforts to gain approval for UW-Stevens Point to become the sixth partner in the UW System statewide collaborative RN-BSN program called BSN@Home. In addition, the SHCP welcomed Nanc Slizewski, DNP, RN, CDE, to address the impending instructional needs for the prospective program once it is approved at UWSP.
The expansion of nursing at UWSP is in direct response to the need for increased numbers of RNs holding a BSN. In a report published in 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that schools increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020.
“Providing nursing education in our communities is one way we as a community can address this issue,” said Slizewski. “It is a win-win situation for the community, college and students as many students remain in their communities after graduation, assuring we will have adequate health care locally.”
Data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) showed less than half of nurses (42.9%) were BSNs. This is a concern, according to Paulson. “Education at the associate’s level does not include the needed depth of knowledge in geriatrics, ethics, leadership, policy, community health, culture or evidence-based practice that is found in baccalaureate nursing education.”
Nursing is a sought-after major in recent years, and for good reason: Wisconsin statistics project nursing as the 24th fastest growing career during the 2008-18 time period. Experts are predicting an estimated shortage of nurses by 2020 due to increasing aging and diverse populations that need more care along with dramatic changes in health care.
Slizewski looks forward to the challenge. “By providing students with education locally, we are assuring our communities will have adequately prepared health care providers,” said Slizewski. “We are also improving the lives of these students and their families with the attainment of a bachelor’s in nursing degree.”