Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing


Educating more nurses

Educating more nurses

By Maura Sullivan Hill

This commitment to providing compassionate, equitable care is the Loyola way, and is evident throughout the initiatives taking place at Niehoff. “[Loyola] provides the community with caring, compassionate, practice-ready nurses educated in the Jesuit tradition,” says Dean Vicki A. Keough (MSN ’91, PhD ’98), RN, FAAN.

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program educates aspiring nurses in just 16 months, enabling them to get into the field more quickly—which is increasingly important these days. With the American Nursing Association estimating that nearly 700,000 nurses will retire or leave the field by 2024, the health care field is confronting a major, nationwide nursing shortage. Sensing this urgency and feeling called to respond to the need, Keough led the efforts to expand the ABSN program to include a hybrid learning option. “Each year, we receive more qualified applications to our undergraduate nursing programs than we can accommodate,” she says. “Expanding the ABSN hybrid option will help us serve more of these students and
will advance our mission of placing more Jesuit-educated nurses in the community.”

Loyola has been helping qualified students earn the ABSN for the past 25 years, and the hybrid learning option will be similar to its successful predecessor. Students will continue to leverage their existing non-nursing bachelor’s degrees towards the accelerated program, and Loyola faculty will teach all the courses.

Now, however, many of these courses will be conducted via an interactive e-learning platform. By offering this hybrid learning option, Loyola can help busy adult learners reduce the amount of time spent commuting to and from a physical location for classes.

Of course, the hybrid ABSN will still require in-person skills labs and clinical simulations, where students learn to put theory into practice. Hybrid ABSN students will participate in these activities at a new ABSN learning center in Downers Grove, Illinois, while students in the existing ABSN program will continue to attend at the University’s Health Sciences Campus in Maywood, Illinois. Both programs include clinical rotations at leading Chicago-area health care facilities.

These highly skilled and well-educated nurses will enter the field and serve in a time of acute need, both in Illinois and nationwide. The Illinois Center for Nursing predicts a statewide shortage of more than 21,000 registered nurses by the year 2020—just three years from now. And across the U.S., more than one million registered nurses are over the age of 50, meaning that nearly a third of the current nursing workforce will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years.