Mass. Colleges Unveil New Nursing Education Program

A new nurse education initiative announced on Friday compliments long-standing MHA efforts to improve both the supply and education of registered nurses in Massachusetts.

Westfield State University and Greenfield Community College last week unveiled their RN-to-BSN Completion Program, which offers associate's degree graduates and others a one to two-year path to a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Westfield State.

That new program is well aligned with the efforts of the Massachusetts Action Coalition (MAAC) to achieve the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark recommendations included in the report entitled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The IOM report calls for transforming nursing practice through nurses practicing to the full extent of their education and training, and for transforming nursing education.

An MHA-endorsed bill – HB1186 sponsored by Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) – would establish a commission to design academic pathways and necessary supports to advance 95% of all registered nurses in Massachusetts to the baccalaureate degree–level by 2030.

Research shows that strongest correlation between nurses and patient care outcomes is the education and experience level of the nurse, as opposed to more divisive and scientifically unsound initiatives such as setting a statewide mandated nurse-to-patient ratio for all hospitals regardless of the education of the nurses at the hospitals, the acuity level of patients being served, and the other resources that each individual hospital may deploy.

A component of the new degree-granting program allows students to move from Greenfield’s practical nursing program, through its associates degree nursing program, then to Westfield’s BSN program, and then on to potential employment at Cooley Dickinson Health Care. Anthony Scibelli, VP Operations and Chief Administrative Officer at Cooley Dickinson, said, “This program provides an opportunity for Cooley Dickinson to employ locally trained nurses who fill vitally important roles both in our hospital and at our outpatient provider practices. There is truly a need for more nurses, and we are excited to offer employment opportunities to the program’s graduates.”