CONTACT: DEREK MAURER
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8037; fax (319) 335-8034
UI Hospitals and Clinics to support speeded-up nursing degree program
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A new tuition reimbursement program has been developed
that will allow registered nurses at the University of Iowa Hospitals and
Clinics (UIHC) to complete their bachelor's degree in nursing at an accelerated
pace, hospital administrators announced Dec. 11.
The modified tuition reimbursement program allows UIHC nurses to participate
in the UI College of Nursing's RN-to-BSN Progression Program, which has
been restructured to permit nurses to complete the requirements for a bachelor
of science degree by attending classes one day a week for a full year.
"The UIHC endorses the importance of educational development of
registered nurses and recognizes the value of staff who are striving to
increase their level of competence," Sally Mathis Hartwig, interim
director of nursing and patient services at the UIHC, wrote in a memo introducing
the new program to nursing staff.
Previously, it could take nurses several years to complete the bachelor's
degree. At that rate, lamented Melanie Dreher, Ph.D., dean of the nursing
college, "The nurses were ready for retirement before they completed
the program." Under the new program, nurses can complete their degree
in one year after meeting the prerequisites and now may receive full tuition
reimbursement for the nursing major courses they need.
"This will allow the hospital to realize the benefits of its investment
in nursing education much more quickly," Dreher said.
Hartwig said more than half the hospital's approximately 1,400 registered
nurses hold a bachelor's or higher degree. "The non-bachelor nurses
are highly skilled," Hartwig said. "But for those who wish to
enhance their academic preparation, the RN-BSN progression program will
provide them with additional opportunities to acquire nursing and leadership
The new policy states that a nurse must hold a permanent staff appointment
of at least 85 percent time, must have been employed as a nurse at the
UIHC for at least a year, and must have been accepted into the RN-BSN program
to be eligible for full tuition reimbursement. Partial reimbursement will
be available for nurses employed less than 85 percent time. Additionally,
the policy requires that nurses make a three-year post-degree employment
commitment to the UIHC.
Hartwig also noted that staff nurses participating in the RN-BSN program
need to arrange their work schedules to accommodate classes. "That's
no small matter," she said. "They need to work with their nurse
manager to make that happen."
Keela Herr, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at the UI and director
of the RN-BSN program, said the chief advantage of the new policy is that
it allows working nurses to complete their degrees more quickly.
Dreher said the new policy is evidence of the intensified collaboration
between the College of Nursing and the UIHC's nursing service. The college
proposed the speeded-up tuition reimbursement early this year as it was
restructuring the RN-BSN program, Dreher said, and UIHC's administration
worked diligently to create a new tuition reimbursement policy and bring
it to fruition.
"I am so impressed with the UIHC's commitment to the advancement
of nursing," Dreher said. "It speaks very highly of them."
R. Edward Howell, director and CEO of the UIHC, said the College of
Nursing "has been very innovative with the creation of this program
and it is appropriate that the UIHC support those individuals from the
nursing staff who wish to benefit from it."