After a milestone anniversary, Sacred Heart University looks forward to the next 30 years of nursing education excellence
(Oct. 1, 2010) — October 2010 marked the 30th anniversary of nursing education at Sacred Heart University, and consistent with the celebration's theme of "The Past is Prologue," the University is looking ahead to the next three decades of nursing education.
High on the University's list of priorities is the expansion of its already popular online nursing degree programs. The recent growth of online learning has a certain "full-circle" feel for those who've been associated with nursing education at SHU since its inception. The most recent edition to the University's online offerings is an accelerated online RN-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing program designed to accommodate the demanding schedules of licensed, working nurses and help them complete the four-year nursing degree which is quickly becoming essential for career stability and opportunity for advancement in the nursing profession. It was a humble RN-to-BSN program that launched SHU's nursing initiative back in 1980 with no more than 20 students in the inaugural class.
Today, more than 500 men and women are pursuing a variety of nursing degrees at Sacred Heart University. SHU now offers two undergraduate programs, including the online RN-to-BSN, five master's-level degrees and a doctoral program. Three of the master's degrees can be earned entirely online, and University leaders report online learners throughout the eastern United States as well as around the country now count themselves among the SHU student body. Demand for online degrees has been so high, SHU plans to continue expansion of the online programs to reach a wider, more geographically diverse audience.
The University is also extending the outreach of its nursing programs beyond American shores. SHU students and faculty have already participated in two international "Field Experience Missions" to Jamaica and Guatemala with more trips in the works. Rather than simple study-abroad programs, these initiatives are service-abroad activities where SHU nursing representatives provide frontline service to patients in vulnerable populations who otherwise do not have access to quality care. The mission to Jamaica focused on medical-surgical practices where SHU faculty and students treated 850 patients. In Guatemala, more than 1,100 patients were served for obstetrical needs.
Study of vulnerable populations has been a focus of the rich research environment in and around Sacred Heart University's nursing programs from the beginning. From faculty-published papers to student research projects, the mission to improve the quality of nursing care through research and discovery is alive and well at SHU, and the next three decades of research performance will certainly continue to raise the University's profile in the scientific community.
If the past is indeed the prologue for nursing programs at SHU, the next 30 years will see a continuation of explosive growth and exceptional student performance. As Sacred Heart University nursing programs continue to expand both on campus and online, and students discover SHU from further corners of the country and world, the nursing community can continue to rely on Sacred Heart University as an integral partner in the never-ending journey toward better patient care.