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Nursing continues to be one of the most in-demand professions in the U.S. And by 2024, the demand is expected to spike by 16 percent across the U.S., according to U.S.  Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And as demand grows, so do credential requirements in the nursing field.

The Institute of Medicine has suggested that by 2020, 80 percent of all nurses should possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, versus a two-year degree one needs to become a Registered Nurse.

The escalating need for nurses with four-year degrees is what prompted Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to establish an RN to BSN program. It also will thrust HU into a major new growth area in healthcare education, one which has led the University to plan the construction of an up to 36-story education building downtown that will be dedicated to health sciences.

The online RN to BSN course will launch this fall. But students can register for the program, which is delivered in seven-week sessions, now. Full-time students can complete the program in 18 months, and part-time options also are available, said HU nursing program executive director Mark Crider, PhD, RN.

Crider, who also is president of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, said the demand for BSN prepared nurses, driven much by the positive impact on patient care, will continue to grow.

Adding the nursing program at HU helps fill the need for nurses with four-year degrees throughout the Harrisburg region and beyond, he said. HU also hopes to offer graduate nursing programs in the future, Crider said.

“Before I moved (from Harrisburg) in the 90s, there was a buzz about a university in Harrisburg. It was just an interesting thought at the time, and I always liked Harrisburg. So, I followed HU and watched it, and thought, ‘too bad they don’t have a nursing program.’ I came back from California to Pittsburgh in 2011. Then I got an email, it said HU was looking for someone to start a nursing program,” Crider said of what brought him to HU.

The RN to BSN program has a  leadership and health policy focus, but classes are individualized to students and their interests. Students will participate in practicums with a concentration in healthcare areas they choose to learn about, Crider said.

The online BSN in nursing program will accept up to 20 students this fall and continue to add more classes and programs.

To accommodate the growth, the University plans to build the more than $100 million health sciences building at North Third and Chestnut streets in downtown Harrisburg, about two blocks away from HU’s existing education tower.                       

The nursing program and other healthcare-related curriculums will develop and grow in the new, innovative facility, which is expected to include student housing, a hotel, retail stores and parking. The building will sit about a block away from Harrisburg Hospital. HU envisions a health sciences corridor developing around the new building.

“I am impressed with HU’s philosophy of higher education and embracing people to help them be successful,” Crider said. “It’s innovative in how the University sees higher education, and how the use of technology changes everything, and it changes how we deliver healthcare as well.

Get more information on HU’s RN to BSN program.

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