UIC-community colleges ease transition for online nursing students
After she received her associate’s degree at Daley College, Megan McMahon found a natural fit to continue her nursing studies online at UIC.
The transition was easy, McMahon said, because of UIC’s partnership with Daley College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
“I wound up choosing UIC because I liked how compatible it was with the City College program,” McMahon said.
UIC’s School of Continuing Studies and College of Nursing have partnered with 10 Illinois community colleges and the University Center of Lake County to help students transition from their associate’s degree program to UIC’s online RN to BSN program, a bachelor’s degree completion program in nursing.
“The partnerships help students have a clear pathway to move from a community college to the university,” said Gayla Stoner, executive director of the School of Continuing Studies.
Since 2010, 266 students have earned their bachelor’s degrees through the online program, with 121 currently enrolled, Stoner said.
The online program can be completed in 16 months, with an average of 20 months, said program director Catherine Tredway.
“All the students are already nurses — they are coming back to get to the bachelor’s degree,” said Tredway. “It’s likely that they are already working, so a real benefit of the program being online is that they can still work and go to school.”
UIC’s online programs, including the RN to BSN completion program, were ranked No. 2 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
“The College of Nursing has an international reputation for preparing nurse leaders,” said Linda Scott, associate dean for academic affairs.
“To be identified as the No. 2 online program across the nation speaks to our ability to provide a quality, rigorous program that still offers the flexibility that working adults need.”
Students who attend community colleges that partner with UIC have access to early academic advising. McMahon, who graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree in nursing, said that made her transition easier.
“It was a really good process in terms of support before the program,” she said. “I’ve never seen such awesome support in advising.”
More hospitals are requiring bachelor’s degrees for their nursing staff. The Institute of Medicine’s 2010 “Future of Nursing” report recommends that 80 percent of hospital nursing staff have a bachelor’s degree by 2020, Scott said.
“It’s difficult for a nurse who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree to get a job. That didn’t used to be the case,” Tredway said.
Completing a degree as an adult learner is a challenge, but the program is flexible. Students can stop their studies for a term or two, then return, Tredway said.
“They can take a break, get married, have a baby, then pick right back up,” she said.
Community college partners
Black Hawk College
City Colleges of Chicago
College of Lake County
Illinois Eastern Community Colleges
Moraine Valley Community College
Northwestern Institute of Health and Technology
Oakton Community College
Richland Community College
University Center of Lake County