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Palm Coast Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 1 week ago

Jacksonville University offering accelerated nursing program in Palm Coast

Beginning in January, qualified students here will be able to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree in 12 months.
by: Brent Woronoff Associate Editor

Jacksonville University began an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program last year. Starting in January, JU will also offer the program at its Palm Coast location in Town Center.

The program allows students to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree in 12 months.

In a news release, JU President Tim Cost said, “Jacksonville University is proud to expand this highly sought-after program, which has been extremely successful in Jacksonville and has served as a groundbreaking model for nursing education in our state. The demand for well-educated, quality nurses persists nationwide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jacksonville University is committed to bringing innovative solutions to address this urgent crisis.” 

To be accepted into the program, students are required to have a bachelor's degree in any field, and they must have completed prerequisite courses in microbiology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry and statistics.

"They have to have those prerequisites that are specific to the nursing content, but they can have any bachelor's degree," Dr. Leigh Hart, JU's associate dean of nursing, said in a Zoom interview with the Observer. "The program does not cut the curriculum at all. They already have their core courses, so they go directly into the nursing classes. They do the exact same courses, the same amount of class time and the same amount of clinical time that they would in the traditional program."

They do the exact same courses, the same amount of class time and the same amount of clinical time that they would in the traditional program."

— LEIGH HART, Jacksonville University associate dean of nursing

Hart said the initial goal is to have 24 students in the Palm Coast program in the 2023 spring semester.

"We are admitting now," she said. "We do have many applications. There's an application process that involves an interview, they have to submit their transcripts, they (submit) a writing sample, then the faculty evaluates those and makes the admission decisions."

Hart said JU started the accelerated program because of a nursing shortage in the state that is expected to worsen. The Florida Hospital Association projects a deficit of 59,100 nurses in Florida by 2035.

The predicted shortage, Hart said, is a combination of some nurses leaving the field along with a large number reaching retirement age while the state's elderly population continues to grow.

"It's kind of like the perfect storm," she said.

JU's Palm Coast campus has 5,000 square feet of space with three classrooms and a simulation lab. The campus currently offers graduate programs in speech language pathology and clinical mental health counseling.

"We want to offer them an education that aligns with the Jacksonville campus."

— DAWN ONSTOTT,  coordinator of the accelerated BSN program in Palm Coast

The simulation lab is a skills lab without electronic manikins, but the university also has a five-year deal with AdventHealth Palm Coast to use its $1 million high-tech simulation center.

Dr. Dawn Onstott, is the coordinator of the Palm Coast nursing program. Dr. Charles Harvey, a clinical assistant professor of nursing, will be a full-time instructor. The university is also hiring student success specialists to be on the campus, Hart said. Other professors from the main campus will be in Palm Coast part-time to teach specialty classes. Hart will teach the nursing research class. 

"We want to offer (the students) an education that aligns with the Jacksonville campus," Onstott said. "So getting different clinical sites ready, getting supplies, looking at quality candidates and having additional faculty here to help provide them a great education has been our main focus since we planned this."

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