Accelerated program at UW-Madison hopes to end nursing shortage

MADISON, Wis. (WISC) -- Wisconsin is in the midst of a nursing shortage that is expected to escalate, according to the Dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing. The Wisconsin Center for Nursing Research says that by 2035, Wisconsin will be short 20,000 nurses.

The U-W is taking steps now in the hope the state will never get there. A new, accelerated nursing program begins in May 2018. It will allow nursing students to take classes and graduate in one year as opposed to the two years a traditional program takes.

The accelerated program runs for a full 12 months, until May 2019. Students will work through the typical summer and winter breaks.

Every year, 160 nursing students graduate from the U-W's traditional Bachelor of Science nursing program. The accelerated program will allow an additional 32 nursing students to graduate each year from the school of nursing.

"We saw that almost 20 percent of our applicants to our traditional baccalaureate nursing program are individuals who already hold degrees," said Dean Linda Scott. "We saw the accelerated program as a way to provide those individuals with an avenue to become professional nurses."

Earning a spot in the program during its first year was highly competitive. The School of Nursing's assistant dean of academic affairs said there were 160 applicants and only 20 percent were accepted.

Scott said the program will allow the school to give back to the community on an even bigger scale.

"Outcomes for patient care are better with the more education that nurses have," said Scott. "We want nurses to have baccalaureate degrees and higher. We also know that the Institute of Medicine made a recommendation that by 2020 at least 80 percent of nurses hold a baccalaureate degree."

Currently, Wisconsin falls below that at just 46 percent.

The Oct. 1 deadline to apply for the 2018-19 program has passed. Anyone with at least a bachelor's degree is encouraged to apply for next year's program.

The application deadline for the program starting in May 2019 is Oct. 1, 2018.

The program costs $45,000 for Wisconsin residents and $60,000 for non-residents.

The U-W also offers a doctor of nursing practice degree, for people who want to become nurse practitioners, as well as a Ph.D program for people pursuing research or training. Those programs do not offer accelerated tracks.

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