Linfield University works to fill nursing gaps by speeding up programs

Education

The U.S. is experiencing a nursing crisis and Linfield hopes to get more students into the workforce sooner

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Linfield University Board of Trustees approved two changes to the school’s nursing program last Saturday in the hopes the change will help get students into nursing careers as quickly as possible. 

The U.S. is experiencing a nurse staffing crisis, due in part to Baby Boomer generation nurses retiring and also due to nurse burnout during the pandemic. In its program changes, Linfield decided to condense the accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing program from 16-18 months to 12 months. 

It also established an accelerated master’s entry into professional nursing, which will allow students who already have a bachelor’s degree to obtain a master’s degree in about 18 months. 

Nursing school Dean Dr. Kim Dupree Jones said the accelerated bachelor’s program will get more qualified candidates into the workforce or onto master’s programs sooner and she said the master’s program will better equip students to handle more responsibilities, which will hopefully help them avoid burn-out. 

“I think the master’s is particularly helpful because what happens is nurses enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree, traditionally, and then they get tapped for a leadership position, but they’re not adequately prepared for that and it’s understandable why people would burn out,” she said. 

Dupree Jones also said the master’s program could be a better option for students who already have a bachelor’s degree because sometimes more financial aid is available for master’s programs than for secondary bachelor’s degrees. 

The master’s program will last about 17 months and both the accelerated bachelor’s and master’s programs will operate on a 10-week calendar, rather than the 15-week calendar the university previously used for its accelerated nursing program. 

Condensing the bachelor’s program to 12 months means students will go through topics quickly. Dupree Jones said schools in other states have been operating on this model for many years and have had success, but students should be prepared to devote a lot of time to school in those 12 months. 

Linfield University Nursing School
Linfield University opened its new campus in Northeast Portland in February 2021. (KOIN)

For people who want time off from school in the summer and who want to maintain a job while they go to school, Dupree Jones said Linfield’s traditional, two-year bachelor’s of science in nursing degree might be a better option for them. This program track will still be an option, in addition to the accelerated track. 

“We feel like we have multiple options for different types of learners and what’s going to work well in their lives,” Dupree Jones said. “At the end of the day, they can all be registered nurses.” 

She said when Linfield’s nursing school moved to its new 20-acre campus in Northeast Portland in February 2021, the school increased its simulation space, which is what allowed the university to roll out the two new programs. 

Linfield’s accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing program is accepting applicants now. The first 12-month program will start in summer 2022. Students can apply for the accelerated master’s entry into professional nursing in March 2022 and the first program will begin in January 2023. 

KOIN 6 News contacted other nursing schools in the region to see if they’re making changes to their programs to help meet the growing need for nurses. 

Washington State University Vancouver said it is not making changes to its program at this time. 

Oregon Health & Science University replied with the following statement: 

The Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing provides a quality educational experience that prepares future nurses for the modern healthcare workforce. OHSU nursing programs typically provide more clinical experiences, which we believe help our students become successful and impactful nurses. OHSU is currently reviewing new standards that were recently released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and will consider those standards if we explore any curriculum changes.

University of Portland did not say if it was making changes to its nursing program, but the university did replying saying there were 154 nurses in the recently-graduated class of 2021.

Chemeketa Community College did not reply to our inquiry. 

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