Elms, HCC Create Nursing-degree Completion Program for RNs

CHICOPEE, HOLYOKE — The College of Our Lady of the Elms and Holyoke Community College have partnered to expand nursing-degree offerings in Western Mass., and to make earning a baccalaureate degree in nursing more convenient for students who already hold associate degrees in nursing.

Elms College President Mary Reap and HCC President William Messner signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a new RN-to-BS program allowing nurses with two-year degrees to complete Elms College bachelor’s degrees on the HCC campus. The program already has 15 students, who started at the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year.

Elms currently has off-campus agreements with more than six institutions in dozens of programs; HCC was the first community college with which Elms partnered to expand educational opportunities. This new agreement builds on the college’s previous relationship to offer degree-completion options for HCC’s RN students.

“It’s all about our students,” Reap said. “They are the ones who benefit from being able to continue their four-year education right here on their own campus, where they’re familiar with the faculty and get the support that they need to move to four-year degree completion. We now have hundreds who have done it, and we’re both very proud of that.”

Added Messner, “nursing is one of those disciplines that is really evolving. When I got into the business years ago, the notion of someone taking an associate’s degree in nursing was sort of remarkable. Now, more and more, the need is for nurses to go at least through a baccalaureate program. This agreement is going to allow students to seamlessly — and we underline ‘seamlessly’ because this is the ultimate in seamless, where students literally don’t have to move at all from the site of their associate-degree program to their baccalaureate-degree program — continue their education.”

Kathleen Scoble, dean of the Elms College School of Nursing, added that “we’re looking forward to the opportunity to be partners with HCC, to bring our program here, and hopefully inspire HCC’s nurses as they continue in their educational journey.”

The new memorandum of understanding also includes two online degree-completion programs: a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology assistant and a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management.