Nursing programs & Partnerships: School adapts to community needs


StFrancis-005Partnership with St. Francis addresses primary care gap

As demand for primary healthcare services exceeds capacity, the University of Indianapolis and Franciscan St. Francis Health are expanding their educational partnership to help more nurses advance their careers and become family nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners can counteract the growing shortage of primary care physicians by providing such services as initial evaluation of patients, ongoing care for chronic diseases, and preventive screenings and immunizations. In August, under the new agreement, UIndy’s School of Nursing will begin offering Master of Science courses with the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty at a Franciscan St. Francis education facility near its Indianapolis hospital at 8111 S. Emerson Avenue. Nurses with bachelor’s degrees enter the program in cohorts of 12 to 15, meet for evening classes and clinical experiences designed to fit their work schedules, and emerge three years later with an advanced degree. Franciscan St. Francis will provide tuition reimbursement for nurses from its Indianapolis, Mooresville, and Carmel hospitals and its physician practices in the area.

According to projections, Franciscan St. Francis needs to add more than 100 nurse practitioners to its system by 2016 to meet the demand for primary care. The new program is the third master’s degree partnership between the two organizations, joining two ongoing programs that focus on nursing education and health systems leadership. UIndy also provides bachelor’s degree programs in nursing for Franciscan St. Francis and Hendricks Regional Health, as well as associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees for IU Health.

School of Nursing launches doctoral degree program

The need for nurses with advanced clinical and management skills continues to grow. The UIndy School of Nursing has answered that need by launching its first doctoral program: the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Aimed at nurses working in administrative or advanced-practice roles, the post-master’s program will provide students with a mix of clinical, organizational, financial, and leadership skills. Graduates will be prepared to use the latest research to enhance patient care and to evaluate and improve healthcare delivery systems.
The first will begin this fall. The School of Nursing, known for its range of Master of Science specialties, noted that a dozen post-master’s-prepared nurses from various specialties comprised the first cohort; a third were from among its alumni ranks. Anne Thomas, the School’s dean, said, “They’ve been asking us for a program like this,” she said. “Many hospitals in the area are now seeking doctorally prepared leaders for executive and mid-level management positions.” The degree will also be valuable to nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists.

Aside from an intensive three-day session on campus at the start of each semester, the 35-credit-hour program will be provided in an online format convenient for working professionals. Full-time students can complete the courses and field work in two years, including a summer session, but most are expected to choose a part-time option to be completed in three years, including two summer sessions. Students will proceed through the curriculum in cohorts of 10 to 12, with new cohorts beginning each year.
Contact graduate academic advisor Jane Kress at 317-788-2128 or; or Associate Professor Corinne Wheeler, coordinator of the DNP program, at 317-788-6226 or

RN-to-BSN program goes online

The University of Indianapolis is taking one of its most popular nursing degree programs online, making it accessible to working nurses throughout the state who want to advance their careers. UIndy’s School of Nursing first launched its RN-to-BSN program in the early 1990s to help registered nurses—licensed after two to three years of education—to complete their bachelor’s degrees, which are becoming the healthcare industry standard. The program is offered in an accelerated hybrid of weekly class meetings and online content that can be completed in 12 months, and also in on-site formats designed for employees of the IU Health, Hendricks Regional, and Franciscan St. Francis health systems. Beginning this fall, the same UIndy curriculum will be available in an online format that also can be completed in 12 months. The online program is open to licensed nurses working in Indiana. Financial aid is available, and students will have the flexibility to move from the hybrid to online format, or vice versa, as their circumstances change.

Evolving standards among healthcare providers and nursing professional associations are making the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree more important than ever, said Connie Wilson, director of the RN-to-BSN program. The industry is bracing for a wave of retirements. Enrollment in two-year associate’s degree programs is increasing, but most nurses will be expected to complete their bachelor’s degrees within five years of entering the field. Also, major hospital systems are now adopting the nursing associations’ recommendation that 80 percent of their nursing workforce should hold bachelor’s or advanced degrees by 2020. Nurses who delay obtaining higher degrees may find career options limited. More information is available at