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November 10, 2022

Husson revamps nursing program to address state shortage

Courtesy/Husson University Student nurses learn from a simulated situation at Husson University, which is again offering a course for registered nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-to-BSN).

Husson University is bringing back its Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-to-BSN) program, now available online and geared to both students and working nurses.

"Our redesigned program now offers students more flexible course schedules than before," said Dr. Amy Arnett, associate provost for online and distance education. "These schedules will make it easier for our students to continue working as they take classes."

The Bangor-based university is also making the degree more affordable to attain: Nurses who live and work in Maine and enroll in the RN-to-BSN nursing program are eligible take classes at $338 a credit hour, $60 less per credit than the usual cost for online courses. The university's transfer credit policy and year-round enrollment will allow students to use credits earned elsewhere, Arnett said.

“There’s never been a better time for those interested in earning an RN-to-BSN degree to enroll in this online program,” said Dr. Alicia Murray, the online director of the RN-to-BSN program and an assistant professor at Husson. “It’s our hope that all of these incentives will motivate more individuals to earn an RN-to-BSN degree and help alleviate the nursing shortage we’re currently facing here in Maine.”

Maine is facing a projected nursing shortfall of 1,450 registered nurses in 2025. While some progress has been made, the state still faces challenges to ensure residents have access to the healthcare personnel needed to address the Maine's aging population. According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 31% of Maine’s population will be 60 and older by the year 2030, an increase of 41% from 2012.

A student at Husson University takes an online class.The University is reprising a nursing degree program with an aim of easing the state's nursing shortage.

Maine has the third-largest percentage of nursing staff shortages at long-term care facilities in the nation, according to a study by Seniorly, an online platform that connects people with senior living options and resources. The study found that nearly 38% of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Maine experienced nursing shortages in 2021-22. That’s an increase of over 18% from 2020, at the start of the pandemic.

“We’re facing an increased need for nurses at a time when the number of nurses is decreasing,” said Dr. Valerie Sauda, the chief nurse administrator, undergraduate director and associate professor in Husson University’s School of Nursing. “The effort being undertaken to partner with our online division and produce more qualified and knowledgeable nurses will make a difference in the quality of care patients can expect in the future."

Husson University, which was founded 120 years ago, offers educational programs in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; and communication. Based on its full-time undergraduate enrollment of 2,220, Husson is the fourth-largest institute of higher learning in Maine, according to the 2021 Mainebiz Book of Lists. Husson has a private endowment of $26,374,000 and, according to an analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. 

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