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New path to nursing degree in the works

The University of Mary Washington and Germanna Community College signed an agreement Monday that will allow nursing students to co-enroll at the schools.

The agreement, which is a direct path for nursing students to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is threefold.

It was signed by UMW President Rick Hurley and Germanna President David Sam at UMW’s Stafford County campus.

First, it offers guaranteed admission to UMW for Germanna graduates with an associate degree in nursing beginning this fall. Those students must have a 3.0 grade-point average. The students then transfer credits to UMW and complete another year of school to attain a bachelor’s degree.

The agreement also allows nursing students a four-year residential university experience. Students can live on UMW’s Fredericksburg campus while taking classes at both UMW and Germanna. Under this program students complete prerequisites at both campuses during the first year, spend the next two years completing the associate degree at Germanna and return during the fourth year to UMW to complete a four-year degree.

This part of the agreement will begin in 2015 if it is approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The third prong of the program, also pending approval to begin in 2015, will allow Germanna students to enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program while seeking an associate degree in nursing at Germanna. It will also allow students to take liberal arts classes at UMW.

“These agreements will open more doors for nursing students to experience a higher level of learning,” said Pamela McCullough, director for UMW’s BSN completion program. “We’ve created multiple pathways to which members of our community can earn their degrees in nursing.”

The program was created as a way for those with associate degrees in nursing to earn a bachelor’s—which is becoming increasingly required in the field—in as little as a year. It was jump-started by a $25,000 grant from the Mary Washington Hospital Community Benefit Fund in order to help create the nursing completion program.

According to UMW’s estimates, by 2020, 80 percent of nurses in the United States will need a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Locally, Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center requires nurses to attain a bachelor’s degree within five years of employment.

In addition to the Germanna agreement, UMW has partnered with Mary Washington Healthcare to offer the completion program beginning later in August to practicing nurses who require a bachelor’s degree.

UMW already participates in transfer agreements with Germanna that permit concurrent enrollment and automatic transfer for eligible students.

UMW also has a guaranteed admission agreement with Virginia’s community colleges for students who graduate with an associate degree and meet a minimum GPA requirement.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976