Students can earn affordable bachelor’s degrees in nursing at community college
Will help address critical nursing shortage in rural Illinois, Metro East

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BUNKER HILL – Students will be able to earn affordable bachelor’s degrees in nursing at a regional community college thanks to an innovative partnership that will help boost the rural economy while supplying nurses for rural hospitals and clinics.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Monica Bristow (D-Godfrey) on Monday announced a new partnership between Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey and the University of Illinois at Chicago to offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at the college.

The presidents of the two institutions worked with Manar and Bristow to develop the agreement. Nursing students will be able to earn a BSN from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing while attending classes at Lewis and Clark.

The agreement will include partnerships in the area of nursing degrees, collaboration and funding of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and innovation partnerships through the Lewis and Clark St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab and the University of Illinois Tech Hub. It also will include work at the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities in Edwardsville.

Nurse350Manar has been working on legislation to make affordable BSN degrees accessible through community colleges in areas of Illinois where there is a critical shortage of nurses. During a tour of hospitals and federally qualified health clinics in the 48th Senate District last fall, Manar heard repeated concerns about the severe shortage of applicants for nursing and other professional health care positions.

“I want to commend the leadership of these two institutions of higher education for coming together to create a groundbreaking new program that solves a pressing problem in my Senate district,” Manar said.

“Because of their willingness to work together and think outside of the box, prospective students will have access to affordable bachelor’s degrees, rural hospitals and clinics will have access to an expanded pool of nursing applicants to address growing workforce needs, and working families will take on less debt and earn better wages. I am beyond thrilled about this partnership and I look forward to being there when the first BSN class graduates from Lewis and Clark and UIC through this program.”

The unique partnership creates options for a convenient and affordable pathway to a BSN degree for students in central Illinois and the Metro East. Nursing leadership from both institutions will work together during the coming weeks to develop plans to make RN-BSN education more available to nurses in the region.

“The University of Illinois system is gratified to be able to collaborate in important work with our counterparts at Lewis and Clark and community colleges across the state,” said Timothy Killeen, president of the University of Illinois.

UIC has offered RN-BSN completion education for over 35 years. With US News & World Report ranking the institution as one of the top 10 nationally, it is uniquely positioned to join with Lewis and Clark to expand BSN education in the region.

Lewis and Clark Community College has a long history of graduating successful associate degree nurses who are well prepared for clinical practice and ready to continue their education. A partnership between the two programs builds on the strengths of each, allowing for innovation and efficient program delivery for registered nurses seeking bachelor’s degrees.

“We appreciate the leadership of our local elected leaders, Senator Manar and Representative Bristow, and the vision of President Killeen for helping us reach this historic partnership,” said Dale Chapman, president of Lewis and Clark Community College.

“The program development between the University of Illinois and Lewis and Clark will continue the growth and expansion of students’ learning and research.”

Bristow and Manar are committed to developing different approaches that make good-paying jobs more accessible to residents in the region.

“Building a more vibrant Metro East economy means providing options for our young people to pursue an affordable, world-class education here in our community,” Bristow said.

“This collaborative effort by UIC and Lewis and Clark Community College will bring more good-paying nursing jobs to our community, help more of our students achieve their academic goals here at home, and deliver more effective, compassionate care for all. I’m grateful these institutions have come together to both provide our young people with more career opportunities and also create a partnership that will benefit our entire region.”

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