Milwaukee Area Technical College and Cardinal Stritch University have signed an agreement that will provide MATC nursing students the opportunity to concurrently enroll at Cardinal Stritch University and earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as one semester after earning an MATC associate degree in registered nursing.
The agreement addresses the statewide nursing shortage, which has been described by Wisconsin’s Public Policy Forum as “one of the greatest workforce challenges facing the health care industry” and is projected to increase as experienced nurses retire. The forum’s report calls for a 24 percent increase in the state’s workforce of registered nurses by 2020.
“We are pleased to have this innovative articulation agreement with Cardinal Stritch University. We have created a seamless curriculum and course schedule to ensure the completion of both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree in as little as two-and-one-half years,” said Dr. Vicki J. Martin, president of MATC. “Quickly preparing nurses with these credentials is critical to meet the workforce demands and to provide students an affordable educational path.”
The collaboration is more than a traditional transfer agreement. Students begin their educational career by enrolling at MATC and taking MATC courses, many of which also apply to their bachelor’s degree at Stritch. Students are admitted to the Stritch program immediately and will earn MATC and Stritch credits at the same time.
“This concurrent enrollment agreement not only enhances an already strong relationship between Stritch and MATC, it also reflects the type of timely, agile and innovative approach to nursing education in the 21st century that is necessary to prepare leaders in the field,” said Kathleen A. Rinehart, J.D., Cardinal Stritch University Interim President. “Nursing students will receive instruction and clinical experience from two highly respected institutions that have educated nurses for decades. We are proud and eager to set the stage for a new chapter in nursing education.”
Once students fulfill associate degree requirements and obtain licensure as registered nurses, they can complete their bachelor’s degree in as little as one semester of study at Stritch. All Stritch credits are earned by completing accelerated online courses that are offered year-round. The collaboration will admit its first students during the Spring 2018 semester.
“Cardinal Stritch University is the only institution in Wisconsin to offer a concurrent enrollment approach which will expedite the student’s completion of their bachelor of nursing degree,” said Dr. Kelly Dries, dean of the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Stritch. “Students will have the opportunity to complete associate degree and bachelor’s degree coursework concurrently and build a strong foundation for entry-level nursing positions, advancement into leadership roles and graduate studies.”
The concurrent enrollment approach removes barriers that may prevent associate degree graduates from pursuing a bachelor’s degree, reduces a student’s educational costs, and prepares students to enter the health care workforce more quickly. Stritch also has established concurrent enrollments with Gateway Technical College and Madison College.
“This agreement will allow MATC’s highly skilled and diverse nursing student body a new option to quickly finish their bachelor of science in nursing degrees at an excellent university,” said Dr. Nancy Vrabec, dean of MATC’s School of Health Sciences. “Agreements like these, along with the $2.3 million grant from United Health Foundation, will allow us to double the size of our nursing program and help us meet the overwhelming need for well-trained nurses.”
The effort expands current collaborative efforts between MATC and Stritch that make college degrees affordable and accessible for area residents. In addition to the concurrent enrollment program, transfer agreements are in place for business, criminal justice, hospitality management, respiratory therapy and teacher education programs.