Providing critical care: Unique partnership answers national call for nurses

student nurse taking blood pressure

An Indiana first-of-its-kind collaboration between Hanover College and Ivy Tech Community College-Madison will help meet the challenges of the region’s ongoing shortage of nurses and nursing programs.

Among Hanover’s core strengths are outstanding programs in the natural and life sciences, comprising kinesiology and integrated physiology, psychology, biology and chemistry, among others. Ivy Tech, with 19 full-service campuses and 24 satellite locations across Indiana, ranks as the nation’s largest provider of Associate of Science in Nursing graduates.

This fall, Hanover and Ivy Tech-Madison will unite to launch Indiana’s first “1+2+1” nursing program. The unique academic track combines the strengths of both institutions to create a pathway for students to earn both associate and bachelor’s degrees in a four-year period. The partnership, which recently received approval from the Higher Learning Commission, allows both campuses to share costs for facilities, clinical placements and personnel, and consolidate expertise and resources across the two institutions.

“For years, Ivy Tech-Madison has been an important partner for Hanover College and our community and we are excited to again be charting a new course together,” said Hanover President Lake Lambert. “This partnership will transform nursing education in our region and will create tremendous opportunities for our students in the future.”

Students will be enrolled at Hanover and live on campus all four years but will take their second- and third-year clinical nursing courses at Ivy Tech’s nearby Madison, Ind., campus. Students will earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN) from Ivy Tech and take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) at the end of their third year to become a registered nurse. In the fourth year, students would return to classes on Hanover’s campus to complete a post-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Hanover’s program will be directed by Amber Wilson, DNP, who possesses a unique combination of clinical nursing, education and teaching experience, as well as knowledge of the Ivy Tech program and regional health communities. Prior to her arrival at Hanover, she served as assistant professor of nursing and certified nursing assistant program director at Ivy Tech-Madison.

“Bachelor-prepared registered nurses are educated with additional knowledge and competencies to meet the healthcare industry’s demands,” noted Wilson, who will also serve as a clinical assistant professor of nursing. “The immeasurable value of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree prepares nurses for leadership roles, graduate school preparation, career advancement, case management, health promotion and the capacity to practice in a wide variety of healthcare settings.”

In their first year, Hanover’s pre-nursing students will take core requirements with other first-year students. These courses would also include pre-requisites for Ivy Tech’s ASN program such as a first-year writing course, entry-level anatomy and physiology, and introduction to psychology.

The bachelor’s degree in nursing will include 14 professional-technical courses during the second and third years. While residing on Hanover’s campus, students would take these courses at Ivy Tech-Madison, using its laboratories, classrooms and clinical facilities. Courses during this period include fundamentals of nursing, pharmacology for nursing, medical surgical nursing, mental health nursing, and nursing for childbearing and childrearing families.

Whether taking classes at the Hanover or Ivy Tech location, these students will be eligible to participate in all aspects of campus life at Hanover. This includes intercollegiate athletics, performing and visual arts, Greek life, student government, clubs and much more.

“This model is the first of its kind in Indiana,” said Ivy Tech-Madison Chancellor Amanda Allen Harsin ’06. “We are proud of the innovation and we applaud Hanover College for building a path for students to use our premier faculty and facilities.”

Nursing consistently ranks nationwide as one of the top five majors for high school seniors. Hanover Research Group (HRG), an independent research and analytics firm (not affiliated with Hanover College) reported that student interest in nursing remains strong despite pandemic-related strains, and that enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs designed to prepare new registered nurses rose 5.6 percent nationwide in the 2020-21 academic year. The increase contributes to more than 15 years of continued enrollment growth among baccalaureate nursing programs.

According to HRG, employer demand for the BSN also is strong in Indiana and nationwide with positions for registered nurses projected to grow 12.4 percent in the Hoosier State and 7.2 percent across the U.S.  through 2030. The demand is fueled by an aging population, workforce exits and increased activity in long-term care and outpatient care facilities.

In the past five years, nearly 1,000 Hanover applicants have noted an interest in nursing on their admission application. The College plans to enroll 10 students in its first nursing cohort in fall 2023 and then expand to 20 students per cohort in subsequent years.

“Providing opportunities for Hanover students to thrive now and in the future is what gets the admission team excited,” said Peter Ashley, Hanover’s vice president for enrollment and marketing. “This ground-breaking program will enable students to maximize their educational opportunities while preparing them for successful careers in one of the nation’s most in-demand fields.”