A bachelor of science in nursing program at Pitt-Johnstown finally was approved Thursday by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, nearly two years after Gov. Ed Rendell pledged it would be coming.
“This monumental accomplishment positions Pitt-Johnstown to deliver a high-quality nursing program that responds to pressing health-care needs in our community, and beyond,” college President Jem Spectar said.
“This great new chapter in our campus history would not have been possible without the support of our friends in the community, for which we are profoundly grateful.”
The program will incorporate a previously announced $10 million, 20,000-square-foot Nursing and Health Sciences Building to feature classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and and offices.
The building received $4 million through Rendell’s efforts, with UPJ paying the rest.
“We’re still in the design phase for the building, with no firm date for groundbreaking and construction,” university spokesman Bob Knipple said.
“We have created some additional classroom and laboratory space that will more than meet our needs in the meantime,” he said.
“Admissions will begin immediately.”
The degree program will accept 40 students this year, topping out at 160 enrollments when the program is at capacity in 2014.
By that year, six full-time faculty will be assisted by some part-time instructors, said Janet Grady, chairwoman of the Division of Nursing and Health Science.
Currently, UPJ offers an “RN completion program,” Grady said, which enables students who have received two years of nurse training elsewhere to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Over 25 years, more than 600 people have completed this study.
“We didn’t have a traditional, four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing,” Grady said.
Pennsylvania is experiencing a shortage of health-care workers, which is expected to intensify. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses will grow faster than for most other occupations through 2014.
Grady said the program will help fill a void for nurses in Greater Johnstown, which has an aging, partly rural population. Grady believes some of the grads will stick around and contribute their talents to the area.
“We’ve had students asking about this program,” she said. “Of course, Pitt is well known for nursing and health science programs. It’s something we’re all very, very proud about.”
The BSN degree will be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education through the Pitt School of Nursing.
In a release, UPJ said it will focus on rural health issues. The Pitt-Johns-town program will combine clinical practice with traditional nursing theory and will emphasize holistic patient care.
“This is just part of the ongoing momentum on our campus since the arrival of President Spectar,” Knipple said, noting that ground was broken in the fall for a $10 million wellness center.
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh.