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Friday, July 25, 2008

New Master's Programs in Nursing Open Doors for Health Professionals

SALISBURY, MD---In addition to helping address the nationwide shortage of nurses and nursing faculty, Salisbury University’s expanding master’s program in nursing is also opening doors for local health professionals.

For alumna Kathryn Fiddler, a registered nurse (RN) who earned a bachelor’s degree at SU, it was an easy choice to re-enroll in the master’s program.  An Air Force reservist and clinical research coordinator at Delmarva Heart, LLC in Salisbury, she’s taking full advantage of a new clinical nurse educator track, which starts this fall.

“The new track provides the opportunity to have an understanding of clinical health assessment, as well as the teaching aspect,” said Fiddler (’96), of Allen.  “What we do as nurses involves so much education, for physicians, patients and other nurses.  Most of us are not ever formally trained to teach; we just step into that role.”

Other RN’s, including Nattile Clarke and Christie Bradford who work in the operating room at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, have enrolled in SU’s new “RN to Master’s” program.  It allows those with an associate’s degree in nursing to earn a master’s degree in less time.

“The program offers a 12 credit efficiency that makes it easier for students because it bypasses typical bachelor’s degree requirements,” said Dr. Karin Johnson, director of graduate and second degree programs.  Clarke and Bradford said the new program may create future job opportunities for them as nurses, since having a master’s degree is desired for management and teaching positions.

Both new programs were developed through a three-year, $261,009 grant from the Maryland Higher Education Commission for its Nurse Support Program (NSP II), which is designed to increase the number of nurses in Maryland hospitals and expand the capacity of the state’s nursing programs.

“Our intent is to provide an exciting and challenging master’s education that will prepare more nurses for the field and for teaching, both at the college level and through staff and patient education,” Johnson said.  “Our faculty will work one-on-one with individual students to design a program that fits their schedule and allows them to meet other responsibilities.  We encourage students to enroll along with friends and colleagues, so they can travel to classes together and support each other.”

Both new programs will utilize the latest options in distance learning education to offer some courses in online or hybrid formats to make the program more accessible and efficient for students who are employed.  Fiddler, Clarke and Bradford also said the availability of new nursing programs at SU is cost effective because it allows them to stay close to home and eliminates a lengthy drive across the Bay Bridge or Delaware.

“The faculty of SU’s Department of Nursing has done an excellent job identifying current trends,” Fiddler said.  “Finally, we are bringing nurses back home to help with the nursing shortage here.  We are teaching and learning from each other and it’s helping people in our local community.”

Applications are currently being accepted for fall 2008. For more information, contact SU’s Department of Nursing at 410 543 6420 or visit the Web site at www.salisbury.edu/nursing



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