Northern Illinois University

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News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

March 19, 2009

NIU, College of Lake County partner to offer
bachelor’s degree completion for registered nurses

DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University and the College of Lake County will begin this fall to offer a bachelor’s degree completion program for registered nurses who live and work nearby.

The partnership between CLC and NIU’s College of Health and Human Sciences provides affordable public tuition during troubled financial times.

“We’re very excited because up to this point we’ve not had any public university access for B.S. degree completion. Our only access has been through private schools, which in this economy is costly,” said Deborah Jezuit, director of nursing education at CLC.

“I taught at NIU for six years, from 1998 to 2004. I’m familiar with the program. I know all the people in the program. I’ve been asking them to come out here since I came out here five years ago, and it’s finally coming to fruition. I’m hoping the master’s program is coming next.”

Brigid Lusk, chair of the NIU School of Nursing and Health Studies, said public universities have “a duty” to open doors to four-year degrees.

“There has been an indicated need for RN-to-BS degree completion programs in the northeastern part of the state. We want to make available our degree programs throughout our area of the state. That’s a responsibility of a public school,” Lusk said. “We are currently just finishing a series of contract courses for one of the local hospitals in that area, and this, I think, will serve a broader need. This location is further afield than we have gone before.”

Classes will take place at the University Center of Lake County in Grayslake, conveniently located next to CLC. The schedule calls for two courses taught back-to-back from 4 to 10 p.m. one evening each week. 

RNs admitted to NIU will receive 32 semester hours of credit for their previous nursing work. NIU will provide 24 semester hours of face-to-face coursework that meets the requirements for the bachelor of science degree in nursing.

The first group of students should finish the program in the spring of 2011.

“Our county has a lot of older nurses. Sometimes, on-ground courses are more palatable to them. They’re not comfortable in an online environment,” Jezuit said. “This will be nice for that person who really wants that face-to-face interaction. All of our other partnerships are either exclusively online or half online.”

Students can complete remaining coursework required for the baccalaureate degree with approved transfer credit from CLC or another accredited college or university. Non-nursing coursework is not considered a pre-requisite to the upper-division nursing courses NIU will provide; students can complete those credits at any time.

Current and former College of Lake County students who are fully qualified for admission into this program will enjoy enrollment preference for half of the course/cohort capacity.

An NIU academic adviser will meet with students on-site at the beginning of the program and remain available by phone and e-mail through the duration of the program.

The new partnership should improve health care for Lake County – “Better-educated nurses have been shown to make a difference in quality and health care outcomes for patients,” Lusk said – and provide avenues to career advancement for nurses. 

“Most B.S.N. programs are for individuals who want to take on leadership roles or advance in nursing higher than bedside nursing,” Jezuit said. “This will give more people the opportunity to complete their degrees and capitalize on that. There will be more movement for them in the nursing profession.”

CLC’s nursing program is housed in the Biological and Health Sciences Division. For more information, visit http://www.clcillinois.edu/credit/programs/nur.asp or call (847) 543-2043.

The NIU School of Nursing and Health Studies is housed in the College of Health and Human Sciences. For more information, visit http://www.niu.edu/offcampusacademics/nursing/ or call (815) 753-6556.

A unique partnership of 18 private and public Illinois colleges and universities, the University Center of Lake County offers select bachelor’s and graduate degrees as well as professional development opportunities. For more information, visit http://www.ucenter.org/ or call (847) 665-4000.

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