Iowa Board of Regents approves nursing program at Univ. of Northern Iowa

(ABC 6 News) – The Iowa Board of Regents approved a proposal from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls to proceed with the planning, development and implementation of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

UNI President Mark Nook says campus leadership will work to develop the appropriate curriculum in anticipation of launching the program in Fall 2024. UNI will join fellow Regent institutions at the University of Iowa and Iowa State to offer a BSN degree.

“Based on figures from the Iowa Board of Nursing, nearly 80% of employers in the state indicate that it is difficult or very difficult to recruit nurses,” Nook said. “Finding qualified health care professionals is becoming exceedingly challenging, particularly in rural areas and in long-term care facilities.”

Additional data from the Iowa Board of Nursing indicates that over 20% of current nurses in Iowa are currently eligible for retirement, while 35% of open nursing positions in the state take over 3 months to fill, pointing to the urgency of getting more students enrolled in health care education programs.

In addition, data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicates that over 8,000 qualified applicants for nursing programs in the Midwest were denied entry last year.

Nook indicated that UNI anticipates to introduce an executive director of nursing and chief academic nurse administrator (CANA) in the near future. This individual will play a role in developing a curriculum and assisting the university in obtaining state and national accreditation. In addition, this leader will help develop community partnerships with clinical experience providers and future employers of program graduates. 

According to Nook, the objective of UNI’s initiative is to provide access to more seats at public school tuition to students who seek to pursue a nursing career and ultimately increase the number of working nurses in the state of Iowa, and not to draw candidates away from existing programs.

UNI anticipates that its initial cohort of undergraduate students enrolling in its BSN program in Fall 2024 will consist of approximately 24 students.