Doubling up

Sept.21-27,2006
Doubling up
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Photo submitted
Le Moyne, St. Joseph’s offer unique nursing program

The stated mission of Jesuit education is to prepare students for service and leadership for a more just society. And Susan Bastable, RN, chair of the department of nursing at Le Moyne College believes that nursing perfectly complements that mission statement.

Of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, 19 had nursing programs. In 2004, Le Moyne became the 20th Jesuit college to feature a nursing program. The administration at the small Jesuit school in Syracuse, however, determined that the time was ripe to resuscitate the program several years ago and that was when Bastable was brought on board. “The administration has been very supportive,” Bastable said. “They really did see that nursing fit the Jesuit mission.”

The idea of a nursing program wasn’t entirely foreign to Le Moyne. From 1951 to 1980, the school offered a program in conjunction with nearby St. Joseph’s College of Nursing. After 1980, however, St. Joseph’s, a Franciscan hospital, elected to work with the Franciscan school Maria Regina College. That college closed in 1990, however, and when Le Moyne determined to resume its nursing program, Bastable contacted her counterpart, Maryanne Markowitz, at St. Joseph’s.

In the immediate area, Le Moyne offers the only nursing program in explicit conjunction with a hospital. In terms of proximity, the closest programs offering similar partnerships are in Binghamton and Utica. Initially, the Le Moyne program was geared solely toward registered nurses interested in continuing their education. In department jargon, the course of study was called the Two-Plus-Two Program.

The Two-Plus-Two Program is a 64-credit upper division bachelor’s degree nursing education program is designed for registered nurses interested in pursuing a higher level of education for professional nursing practice. Graduates of associate degree or diploma programs in nursing are eligible upon admission to transfer in 60 credits of prerequisite course work from their basic nursing education program to pursue a bachelor of science on a full-time or part-time basis.

While Le Moyne was promoting this program, the Syracuse newspaper The Post Standard ran a brief release including its specific details. The article was, apparently, misread by many and, according to Bastable, the nursing-department office received “hundreds” of calls from people interested in a nursing program at Le Moyne. Bastable decided that there was considerable public interest in a four-year nursing program in the Syracuse area and she contacted Markowitz.

Bastable knew that there would be several challenges for starting up a four-year nursing program. For instance, the school would be competing with the associates programs offered throughout the area. The program would also be expensive for Le Moyne.

According to Bastable, however, the school administration was very supportive of her efforts throughout. For the pilot program, launched in the fall of 2005, the school enrolled 10 students. Over the course of a year, however, interest in the nursing program multiplied many times over and, in September of 2006, it boasted 179 students with just modest promotion.

In contrast to the Two-Plus-Two Program, the new edition is called the One-Plus-Two-Plus-One Program and it integrates a nursing education more cohesively with a bachelor’s program. The student spends each of his or her four years on campus. The first year of study is spent at Le Moyne in general preparatory studies. The second and third years are then spent at St. Joseph’s where students participate in nursing classes and labs. For the final year, the students return to complete the bachelor’s program at Le Moyne. The dual-degree program in nursing, according to Bastable, “combines the best of both worlds.” Linda Aiken is the Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing, a professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Health Outcomes Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania. A recent study conducted by Aiken shows that patients in hospitals with a higher percentage of nurses who have obtained bachelor’s degrees tend to have better outcomes.

Moreover, according to Bastable, a movement in New York State is in the works, which would make a bachelor’s of science a minimum requirement for employment as a registered nurse. Prospective nurses with associate’s degrees would be expected obtain their bachelor’s within 10 years while those who are already employed would be grandfathered in, according to Bastable. Bastable also noted that, according to nationwide searches she conducted, the program offered by Le Moyne and St. Joseph’s is the only one of its kind in the U.S. This spring, Le Moyne’s inaugural nursing class will graduate.

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