February 13, 2024 | Matt Kucinski

A woman in blue scrubs stands next to a hospital bed.

Over the next decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 193,100 openings for the Registered Nurse (RN) workforce … each year. The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) workforce, specifically, projects 29,100 openings each year—representing a 38% increase in employment during this timeframe.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, this projected enrollment growth is very fast compared to the 5% average employment growth for all occupations and the 6% growth rate for the entire RN workforce,” said Dr. Adejoke Ayoola, dean of the School of Health at Calvin University.

A recent survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing also reveals another gap in the workforce with about 62% of educational institutions reporting they had vacant full-time positions for the 2022-2023 academic year.

“There’s a need for qualified individuals who can take on the role of nurse educators, researchers, leaders, and other nursing-related administrative positions to better nursing education and the field of nursing in general,” said Ayoola.

Filling the Gap

To address these significant gaps, Calvin University is introducing the Master of Science in Nursing program. The new program, which consists of two tracks: Certified Nurse Educator and Certified Nurse Leader, is created with working nurses in mind. The program is flexible and online with a one-week, on-campus health assessment immersive experience in the first year of the program. It is designed to be part-time and finished within two years.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that students who complete an MSN program like the one Calvin is offering can yield significant financial benefits, to the tune of a median income increase of 45%, the program architects intentionally designed the program to go well beyond that single tangible outcome.

Having Higher Expectations

“Bettering patient outcomes is the goal,” said Carol Rossman, graduate nursing director at Calvin University. “If you are someone who wants to make changes, views yourself as a leader, sees things on the floors or systems you are working in that could be changed to improve patient outcomes, then this is the program for you.”

“We are equipping people to be an agent of renewal and to think deeply,” said Ayoola. “When preparing nurses, it’s important to think about that preparation from a holistic perspective. How am I delivering care, how am I thinking about the whole person, where they are coming from, where they are going back to. It’s not simply thinking of just the acute setting alone.”

Ayoola says bettering patient outcomes is important, but so too is helping the nurses themselves think about their role in the nursing profession as more than just a job.

“We are preparing nurses at the next level to see what they are doing as part of their vocation,” said Ayoola. “From the Christian perspective, we are helping students understand that if this is what God has called them to do, they’ll want to do it with all their heart. Satisfaction and fulfillment helps build resilience, and so when you are approaching this work with the mindset that this is what God’s called you to do, it’s life-giving.”

A total of 37-40 semester hours are required, with 27 of those mapped to the AACN MSN essentials and an additional 10-13 semester hours available for specialty courses. Both tracks also include 500 hours of clinical fieldwork.

The Master of Science in Nursing program is currently admitting students for Fall 2024. Three-credit classes will be offered every eight weeks.

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