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The demanding schedule of a registered nurse can often add complexities for those seeking to further their education.

Emmanuel College’s Maureen Murphy Wilkens School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences has continued to improve its graduate program offerings to meet the shifting needs of the professional nursing community. With more individualization, local partnerships and high quality of instruction, Emmanuel’s graduate and professional programs in nursing, including degrees and certificates, aim to mold “nursing leaders” who become ready for an array of opportunities in the field.

Boston partnership opens unique education path

The College’s partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is a unique option for nurses with associate’s degrees to pursue a bachelor’s of nursing at Emmanuel through a special hybrid offering of the RN-BSN program. These cohorts of BIDMC registered nurses receive guided instruction at Emmanuel College that offers practical application and is easily integrated into their day-to-day work.

The BIDMC cohort program was a game-changer for Samira Adan G’24, who received her bachelor’s in nursing from Emmanuel last month.

“The idea of getting my education at an excellent college while working at a highly accomplished teaching hospital with Magnet status for nursing excellence was an easy decision to make,” Adan said. While participating in the BIDMC cohort, Adan worked 32 hours a week at BIDMC and had designated time built into her schedule to take hybrid nursing courses at Emmanuel towards her bachelor’s degree.

“[It’s] very unique – and one of the best decisions I made,” she said. “I believe the cost of education is one of the biggest barriers for low-income communities in pursuing higher education, and this partnership removes that barrier while providing a work environment that is conducive to learning as a bonus.”

Even with the coursework mostly online, Adan said the instructors always went above and beyond to connect with students and maintain a personal touch. She also said making use of Emmanuel’s academic support was “vital” to her success since English is her second language.

The Emmanuel-Beth Israel partnership began in 2019 as BIDMC took steps to diversify its nursing workforce, said Bridget Gardner, director of pipeline programs at Beth Israel Lahey Health. As part of the program, BIDMC built in a number of supports for the participating nurses to ensure they can balance their work and their education.

“Our ability to develop a program that works with the schedules of the students and their work goals has been so essential,” Gardner added. Combining BIDMC’s clinical educators and Emmanuel’s class support has been successful, she said, especially because both institutions remain open to change and listen to nurses about ways to continue improving and strengthening the program.

“This flexibility and partnership has allowed us to grow and adjust, especially during the pandemic, where we had to re-structure many aspects of it. Our goal has always been to build a pathway for success for all of our students, and we feel grateful that Emmanuel and BIDMC have such a strong partnership to make this happen,” Gardner said.

“A bachelor’s degree from Emmanuel College is something to be proud of… that means something in the nursing world."

Adjunct Professor Sheila Silva, DNP, RN, CEN, TCRN

High quality instruction cultivates "nursing leaders"

Adan’s instructor for her final course, Adjunct Professor Sheila Silva, DNP, RN, CEN, TCRN, has been involved with the Emmanuel nursing program for 20 years. She said in the past few years, the success of the BIDMC cohorts has proven itself, adding how beneficial it is for the students to be diving into the nursing field together and going through classes together too.

For Dr. Silva, as an instructor, maintaining a personal touch in the courses comes down to constant communication and availability. This includes her voice-over classes, interactive online discussions and one-on-one accessibility too: “I make it clear I’ll meet with them any time they need it,” she said.

She has remained as a faculty member at Emmanuel College for so many years because of two things: her fellow faculty and the students.

Across all departments, Dr. Silva said she’s been impressed by Emmanuel faculty from day one because they are all “so attuned to the success of the students.” As for the students, she said she wants to help them become the best professionals they can be: nurses who are well-rounded, equipped to be critical thinkers and leaders in the field.

“I want tomorrow’s nurses to be as good as they can be – we will need them!” she said.

Continuing nursing education at Emmanuel College

The high quality of instruction and individualization aren’t unique to just one graduate program or partnering cohort model at Emmanuel, either. Overall, the Wilkens School of Nursing & Clinical Science’s Online RN-BSN program provides a similar level of flexibility for nurses who want to pursue their bachelor’s at any stage in their career.

Linh Nguyen G’24, is a mom and a full-time nurse. She knew how important it was to be constantly building upon her skills in the nursing field, but needed to do so in a way that accommodated her lifestyle.

“As an adult learner, [my] work life, school life and personal life are all equally important. I’m capable of handling all three roles – I believe this approach is suitable for anyone,” Nguyen said.

The adaptable coursework eases the strain for students, said Visiting Assistant Professor of Nursing Brianna Eble, who serves as chair of the RN-BSN and MSN programs. “The flexibility is a key factor in making that decision a possibility for aspiring grad students.”

The program allows for students to set their own pace and makes it possible for students to earn their degree in 16 months.

Nguyen said Emmanuel’s RN-BSN program in particular was “an eye opener,” because it exposed her to nursing career options she hadn’t explored in the past, such as community health nursing and research and informatics nursing. 

Combined with the flexibility and individualization, it’s down to the quality of faculty, like Dr. Silva, for ensuring the high standard of instruction and personal touch that Nguyen felt throughout the course of the program.

“The level of commitment from our faculty really stands out,” Eble added. “They pour their heart and soul into this – and they stick around – which speaks volumes about them and how committed they are to educating the next generation.”