Iowa colleges partner up to combat statewide nursing shortage

BETTENDORF, Iowa – Nursing is one of the fastest growing careers and the government says there’s not enough students entering the field to replace the baby boomer generation ready to retire.  This is why Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and the University of Iowa are partnering up to fill the career shortage.

The goal of the partnership is to create a seamless transition for the students at community colleges in Clinton, Muscatine, and Bettendorf.  This partnership allows students to finish their associate's degree in three years followed by an additional year and a half to earn their bachelor's through the University of Iowa. They are calling this agreement the “RN to BSN 3+1.5”.

“The Institute of Medicine is issuing a report asking us (the state of Iowa) to achieve an 80% bachelor's prepared workforce,” says Julie Zerwic, College of Nursing Dean and Professor at the University of Iowa.

For nursing student Tayler Ackles, it’s a work-life-school balance.

“It’s really important to me especially with having my first baby in April, graduating, having a new job,” explains Ackles.

Right now, the government says even though nursing is one of the fastest growing jobs in the country, not enough people are going into the field.

“We have an aging workforce so we have nurses that really are retirement eligible,” Zerwic says.

Achieving a bachelor’s degree in nursing is challenging for some.

“It is because barriers individuals experience after they finish their associate’s degree prior to moving onto a bachelors,” Zerwic clarifies.

Nursing students often worry what courses are going to transfer to others schools, but with the University of Iowa on their side they can feel more secure.

“So, when they take their nursing exam they launch right into the bachelor program,” Zerwic says.

Allowing them to launch into their careers and help others – seamlessly.