CONTACT: BONNIE MCINTOSH
101 Nursing Building
UI College of Nursing
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Jan. 24, 2003
First-Of-Its-Kind Professional Degree Offered By UI College Of Nursing
Starting this week, the University of Iowa College of
Nursing is offering a new degree program that provides an option for people
looking to start a new career. Like students in medicine, dentistry, law
and other professions, students in this program already have completed an
undergraduate degree. The professional Master's in Nursing and Healthcare
Practice (MNHP) not only addresses the growing nursing shortage, but also
responds to one of the most rapidly growing segments of applications to nursing
programs: career changers.
"This program benefits people who have experienced real life for a
while. They don't want to come back to school and re-take the basics. We
build on their education in a different field. It's a quick way to become
a quality nurse," said Melanie Dreher, Ph.D., the Kelting Dean and professor
of the UI College of Nursing. "More important, this program will produce
nurses who enter the profession with varied experiences, which we expect
will contribute to the richness of their practice. We're confident that as
the program grows and more of these graduates join the nursing workforce,
they will help to change the culture of nursing, making it an even more valued
and sought-after profession."
The college received nearly 100 inquiries for the 16 spaces available in
"We have had an overwhelming response, which encourages us that this
program is right on target," Dreher said. "Not only did we receive
many more applications than expected, but the diversity of the applicants'
backgrounds was impressive. People with degrees from political science, accounting,
psychology and history were accepted into the program, as were people with
master's and doctoral degrees."
The college plans to expand the program each year, with a total enrollment
of 64 by 2006.
The first class of students started the program with a 40-hour orientation
last week. Students will study theoretical and clinical nursing, and attend
classes full-time for four semesters, the last of which is a paid internship
at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. They will graduate fully prepared to take
the national licensure exam to become registered nurses.
After the intense, weeklong orientation, which included overviews of such
topics as nursing theories, informatics, genetics and ethics, the MNHP students
were saturated with information but inspired to tackle the next four semesters.
"The MNHP program is certainly unique, and the other students and faculty
bring a wealth of experiences and knowledge which will create an incredible
learning environment," said MNHP student Megan Davis, who comes to the
program with a bachelor's in biology.
Another student, Michael Drwiega, who has a Ph.D. in political science,
looks forward to entering a new career. "The program helps me to see
how I can apply to nursing the knowledge I have already acquired in other
areas," Drwiega said.
The college continues to receive inquiries about the program from people
who have heard about it in the local media, or by word of mouth. Many have
undergraduate degrees that they have not been able to use effectively and
are seeking a way to apply their knowledge to a career that is meaningful
and addresses a compelling social need.
"We get inquiries from people who are surfing the Web, looking for
a way to switch careers without abandoning all that they've worked for already," said
M. Patricia Donahue, Ph.D., professor and executive associate dean who oversees
the college's academic affairs. "They tell us they have a degree and
they want to be a nurse, but they don't want to start from square one. There
is a need for this program and we're leading the way in providing a new kind
of nursing education that's aggressive and challenging for these sophisticated
learners who want to use their skills and knowledge to make a difference."