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May 21, 2010

NIU, Illinois Valley Community College forge
partnership for nursing degree completion program

DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University and Illinois Valley Community College will begin in the fall of 2011 to offer a bachelor’s degree completion program for registered nurses who live and work nearby.

Faculty from NIU’s School of Nursing and Health Studies will travel to the Illinois Valley to teach the introductory course and the capstone course while the rest of the classes will take place online.

Students will complete a total of nine courses (24 credit hours) with NIU and can fulfill other degree requirements at IVCC or any other community college, said Brigid Lusk, chair of the school housed inside NIU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

NIU courses can enroll as many as 30 to 40 nurses interested in helping their careers – and their patients.

“Nurses will find this highly convenient because it’s mainly online,” Lusk said. “We are very accustomed to working with working adults. We designed our degree completion programs specifically for this audience. We’re cognizant of the stress they’re going through and of their learning needs, which are quite different than those of the younger adults on campus.”

Rick Pearce, vice president for learning and student development at IVCC, said the college is pleased to provide “a whole new world of opportunities for advancement” to its nursing students and nurses in its region.

“Health professions are our flagship. It’s one of the biggest things we do,” Pearce said of IVCC, the only institution of higher education in a 50-mile radius that encompasses eight counties and nearly 150,000 residents.

“But a lot of the people in the Illinois Valley are time- and place-bound. When we have working nurses who want to further their education, there are not a lot of places to go and limited opportunities,” he added.

“Someone who’s really capable to going to the next level – who has a family, who has a home – just can’t pick up and move t o DeKalb and go for their BSN. We see this as an outstanding way of bringing that education to them, both here in the district and through the use of technology. We’re very excited. We reached out to Northern, and President John Peters has always been supportive of anything we can do to cooperate.”

The partnership comes at a critical time.

Some in Illinois are pushing for a state mandate that would require all nurses to earn bachelor’s degrees within 10 years of completing their associate’s degrees, Lusk said, and the movement is growing.

“To that end, many nurses want to be more prepared,” she said. “An important part of NIU’s mission is providing bachelor’s degrees where needed at the reasonable prices of a state school, and NIU is a very good nursing school. We are just thrilled that Illinois Valley wants us in its district, and we are pleased to be able to serve that area.”

Nursing graduates of the School of Nursing and Health Studies who took the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensure Examination during 2009 posted a 97 percent passing rate. Comparatively, the pass rate was 91 percent percent for all nursing programs in Illinois and 88 percent for all U.S. programs.

For more information, visit http://www.niu.edu/offcampusacademics/nursing/ or call (815) 753-6556.

For more information on IVCC, contact Pam Mammano, interim director of Nursing, at (815) 224-0322 or via e-mail at pam_mammano@ivcc.edu.

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Media Contact: Mark McGowan, Media Relations & Internal Communications
Phone: 815/753-9472
Email: mmcgowan@niu.edu