SMHS creates new Va. campus degree

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences announced Friday that they will offer a second undergraduate degree at GW’s Virginia Campus starting next fall.

The second-degree bachelor of science nursing program requires students to complete a primary degree before admission. The new major will supplement the department of nursing education that SMHS created in 2005 and will help fix a nurse shortage in Virginia, University officials said.

“There was a lot of discussion to meet health care needs for the citizens of Virginia,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president of academic affairs.

Due to the program’s location at the Virginia Campus, the BSN program will utilize clinical training facilities in the Loudoun County area such as Inova Health Systems – a program that has already committed to a partnership with GW. The region will be short by more than 6,300 registered nurses by 2020, according to the Northern Virginia Healthcare Workforce Alliance.

“(The Northern Virginia Healthcare Workforce Alliance) and George Mason University have attempted to meet this need but it is so great that it requires other educational institutions to participate,” Lehman said. “We decided at GW to see what we could do to help.”

In fall 2010, the University will admit 40 students into the BSN program and will then bring 70 students into the program in fall 2011. The BSN program requires completion of 60 credits taken on a full-time basis over four semesters in 16 consecutive months.

In the program, 600 clinical hours will be completed over the four semesters in medical centers. Students enrolled in the program are also required to pass practice Nursing Council Licensure Exams.

Recently, the BSN program at George Mason denied 250 eligible fall applicants, which caused more local interest in GW’s upcoming BSN program.

“I am quite excited about this program because I believe there is great opportunity in Virginia to satisfy a national need,” Lehman said.

In addition to George Mason, four other universities in the D.C. area provide a two-year BSN program including Georgetown, Catholic, Howard and Marymount.

Although Georgetown offers a similar 16-month program, the tuition for the GW program, at $39,756, is more expensive by $2,220.

Two nursing skills laboratories and a computer laboratory consisting of 15 additional computer stations will be built on the Virginia campus before the program begins next fall.

Ellen Dawson will direct the program and will be assisted by the coordinator of undergraduate nursing programs, Rose Brenkus. The BSN will also draw faculty from the Inova Health System and GW’s doctorate of nursing practice program.

Students must have a 3.0 grade point average or higher for the first undergraduate degree and submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement and participate in an interview with a faculty member.

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