WSU, HCC Announce Nursing-degree Partnership

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Westfield State University (WSU) will announce a new pathway for individuals to earn both an associate and a baccalaureate degree in nursing simultaneously or in a streamlined manner by combining the curricula of both programs. The concurrent program is the first in the Commonwealth.

Representatives from HCC and WSU will participate in a signing ceremony at HCC today, May 15, from 11 a.m. to noon in the Frost Building, Room 309.

Beginning one’s professional life as an RN with all the demands on new nurses in a post-COVID era can make it challenging to go back to school and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This program provides an opportunity for students to earn both their ASN and BSN credentials simultaneously before entering the workforce.

“The concurrent ADN-to-BSN pathway is an innovative approach to nursing education. It enables students to earn their ADN while simultaneously completing coursework that counts toward their BSN. This integration of education allows for a more efficient and streamlined approach to nursing education that is advantageous to some students,” WSU Executive Director of Nursing Jessica Holden said.

The ADN-to-BSN pathway creates efficiency for students as it incorporates a joint admission process, thereby eliminating the need for students to submit a separate application for admission to the university. By facilitating the attainment of a BSN, this pathway helps to meet the evolving demands of the healthcare industry.

“We’re excited. Working with Westfield State on this new program is huge,” HCC Director of Nursing Teresa Beaudry said. “We had to meet with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing, who had to approve it, and they’re equally as excited as we are to create another pathway for nurses to advance in their education and a different way for those students who might not be able to get into a bachelor’s of nursing program.”

The concurrent nursing program will help address the nursing shortage by increasing the number of students who can get into a bachelor of nursing program and allow them to earn their degree faster.

According to a Massachusetts Health Policy Commission report, “registered-nurse vacancy rates in acute-care hospitals doubled from 6.4% in 2019 to 13.6% in 2022, with especially high vacancy rates in community hospitals. Employment in nursing and residential care facilities has not recovered since 2020 and remained below 2018 levels.”

Westfield State University President Linda Thompson noted that “collaboration and partnerships in education are imperative to build a solid workforce. We have seen a tremendous need to build capacity in nursing, and we are fortunate to have had wonderful collaboration with Holyoke Community College. This effort expands on our already productive, committed relationship to serve the communities of our region.”