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Updated: December 4, 2023

A shot in the arm: UNE fast-tracks nursing education

Nursing students Courtesy / University of New England University of New England nursing students practice taking blood pressure in the school's Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center in Portland.

The University of New England aims to get nursing graduates into the workforce more quickly via a new 12-month accelerated degree program.

With a rigorous curriculum and emphasis on interprofessional collaboration, UNE's new program aims to equip graduates with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to excel in nursing and deliver better health care outcomes to patients.

The program replaces a 16-month accelerated program launched a decade ago, and comes as Maine’s only medical school prepares to relocate from Biddeford to Portland in 2025. Maine's largest private university has campuses in both cities, as well as in Tangier, Morocco.

UNE is updating its nursing program amid a projection from the American Hospital Association that the U.S. will need to hire 200,000 nurses per year over the next 10 years to meet growing demand and replace retiring nurses.

Donna Hyde, interim director of UNE’s School of Nursing and Population Health, said the program is geared to students who are more frequently seeking high-intensity, accelerated programs as they look to change careers.

“UNE’s accelerated nursing program is looked upon favorably from our health care providers because this is going to allow nurses to enter into practice sooner, while maintaining the essential curricular content that leads to clinical reasoning and skill acquisition,” Hyde said. “It’s a win-win in the face of the continued nursing shortage.”

Each May, the school expects to admit up to 40 students to the new program, for which applications are currently open.

Students in the nursing program will study at the only integrated health sciences campus in northern New England, learning alongside peers pursuing other fields of study.

Those currently enrolled in the program hail from various academic and career backgrounds from education to engineering, according to Elizabeth Mann, the program’s coordinator.

Mann said the new 12-month degree program is accessible to everyone who successfully completes a variety of science prerequisites and program admission criteria.

“If someone has a passion for nursing and they decide this is the trajectory they want to take their life, this offers a pathway to get there faster and at a school where they know they are going to get an excellent nursing education,” she said.

High pass rates 

UNE said its nursing graduates boast some of the highest licensing exam pass rates in the state.

So far this year, 98% of UNE’s nursing graduates have passed the National Council Licensure Examination on their first try, well above the 91.4% state average and 90.7% national average.

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