Emmanuel Begins Onsite BSN Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
January 12, 2009
In a continuing effort to form preferred partnerships with employers, especially the health care institutions of the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, this January Emmanuel began offering its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum onsite at nationally renowned Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Brigham and Women’s Director of Global Health and Academic Partnerships Dr. Patrice Nicholas, Clinical Educator Linda Evans and Operating Room Manager Pearl Cunningham were instrumental in the program’s onsite founding. While the initial target audience for the program was perioperative department nurses of Brigham and Women’s operating and recovery rooms, the initiative was ultimately expanded hospital-wide due to the strong reputation Emmanuel College has among its BSN graduates who work there.
Dr. Diane Arathuzik, Interim Chair of Emmanuel’s Department of Nursing and other faculty and staff conducted a survey this fall of prospective BSN participants, which included nurses who had earned an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing, but had not completed a bachelor’s degree. Following the identification of strong interest in an onsite accelerated BSN program, each candidate attended information sessions and were provided individual academic advising by nursing faculty members.
“Anytime there is a collaboration between an academic institution like Emmanuel College and a practice setting, it’s exciting,” said Nicholas. “This program is accessible for busy working professionals and it is very attractive to clinical nursing staff. I hope this is the beginning of a long and successful partnership with Emmanuel.”
Cunningham, a 2000 graduate of Emmanuel’s BSN program, has often encouraged her health care colleagues to explore the College’s curriculum. For the January start, she anticipated over 20 members from the perioperative unit alone to matriculate into the inaugural BSN onsite cohort. Cunningham, as a nurse manager, is enthusiastic about the large interest in earning a bachelor’s degree from staff nurses and nurse managers alike.
“This program is such a natural progression,” she said. “Emmanuel and Brigham and Women’s have worked hard to make something very manageable for staff members while allowing them to attain a quality education. It’s something that many may not have felt was achievable before. Now it’s nice to see people, who previously felt they didn’t have the opportunity, apply to the Bachelor of Science in nursing, be excited about it, and see that upper management is investing in their professional growth as part of the hospital’s strategy.”
The program exemplifies the College’s tradition for strategic employer alignment for the BSN. Over the years, the benefactors have included nurses of Blue Cross Blue Shield and a number of the hospitals that are part of the Caritas Health Network. Members of the Graduate and Professional Programs staff hope the onsite model for nursing at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will generate requests from other hospitals of the Longwood Medical and Academic Area.
Emmanuel’s BSN has been embraced in the suburbs as well. For the past four years, another onsite BSN initiative has been delivered at Saints Medical Center in Lowell. This May, students from the medical center’s second cohort will graduate from the College. Cathy Curtis, the Director of the Caring Well Institute at Saints Medical Center, attributes the effective affiliation not only to the medical center and CEO Michael Guley’s commitment to investing in the nursing staff’s higher education, but shared values and beliefs between the two collaborating organizations.
She views the program as unique in that the faculty members teach onsite to deliver the BSN, in addition to the dean and staff making regular visits to the hospital to dialogue with participants, the hospital’s top administrators and most importantly, the nurses themselves.
“Emmanuel classes are conveniently held at Saints Medical Center to provide college courses enriched in the latest evidence-based research in patient care,” she said. “Saints Medical Center congratulates its cohort of graduating nurses as well as expresses its gratitude to Emmanuel College and its president, Sister Janet Eisner, for making workforce development and enhanced patient care a priority.”
The impact the program has had at Saints Medical Center is considerable.
“It’s been a great collaboration,” said Doug Philbrick, the clinical nurse manager on the orthopedic medical surgical floor at Saints Medical Center, who graduated from Emmanuel’s BSN program in May 2007. “For a lot of people, the onsite program has made attaining a degree much more accessible. In nursing, the BSN is the desired degree. It’s how you elevate from being a nurse to being a professional nurse.”
According to Nursing Economics, studies have shown that hospitals employing large numbers of nurses with bachelor’s or advanced degrees produce better outcomes in terms of patient care. Research recently featured in Nursing Education Perspectives also indicated that onsite cohort-based programs as an especially successful approach to elevating registered nurses to the BSN level.
“The cohort style provides a great adult learning experience,” said Cunningham. “It allows students to take courses with people they know so there’s that comfort level and support system already there.”
Cunningham and her colleagues at Brigham and Women’s look forward to the advantages an onsite program will afford the hospital and its nursing professionals.
“It’s a great opportunity for us as managers to encourage our staff with a program like this,” she said. “In my role, I see the impact of nurses with a bachelor’s degree in terms of better outcomes for patient care. “Before I could only recommend a BSN to them. Now I can tell our best nurse leaders that we have our own onsite delivery of the Bachelor of Science in nursing.”