Though Kaylee Taylor, BSN’21, stayed close, and Harmony Latham, BSN’21, traveled 849 miles to Nashville, Tennessee, both women can look back on a life-changing year in Grand Island, Nebraska, where the long arm of the Creighton University College of Nursing opened the door to their new lives.
“Thankfully, and by the grace of God, I have accepted a position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee,” Latham wrote in an online blog.
The Creighton College of Nursing’s Grand Island Campus graduated its first cohort in December 2021 when 16 students enrolled in the 12-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program received their diplomas during ceremonies at Grand Island’s Riverside Golf Club.
Taylor, a native of Grand Island, was named Student of the Year after graduating from the 3+1 program that permitted her to earn a three-year bachelor’s degree in biology-health systems from Hastings College and then her BSN after 12 months of accelerated study with Creighton. Having earned two degrees in four years, she is now a nurse at CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island.
So successful has the 3+1 partnership with Hastings College been that Creighton is now expanding the program to include York University in York, Nebraska; Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska; and Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.
It’s an expansion that Latham, a native of southern California who moved to Tennessee before deciding to study nursing in Nebraska, urges other potential students to embrace.
“The smaller cohort size was a huge draw,” she says. “I knew that with fewer students I would gain more hands-on time in simulation, clinical rotations would be easier to secure and the instructors were going to know me, my skill level and what I needed to work on to be the best nurse I could be.
“Going to Grand Island and Nebraska was one of the most terrifying decisions of my career, but it led me to a great education, gave me some of my best friends and ultimately created fond memories that I will hold onto for a lifetime.”
Creighton’s innovative accelerated nursing degree responds to a national nurse shortage that has been described as a pending crisis. The number of states experiencing a nursing shortage is expected to increase by 2030, according to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2020 workforce survey. The largest of these is California, which is expected to be short 44,500 nurses. The deficit is fueled by growing populations, the retiring baby boom generation and an anticipated wave of nurse retirements given that more than half of current registered nurses are over the age of 50.
“There is a nationwide nursing shortage, and this shortage is evident in Nebraska,” says Joely Goodman, PhD, RN, assistant professor of nursing at Creighton and accelerated faculty chair at the College of Nursing’s Grand Island Campus. “Every economic region in the state currently has a nursing shortage, and this gap in supply and demand will continue to grow, leaving the need to educate nurses as important as ever.”
The expansion of Creighton’s 3+1 partnerships to more small communities in central and eastern Nebraska is expected to benefit underserved rural communities throughout the state.
“As Creighton expands to different regions of the state, graduates of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program may choose to work as registered nurses in the communities where they began their college education,” Goodman says. “This would allow Creighton’s graduates to have a positive impact on more of the state since Creighton nursing graduates are well-respected in healthcare.
“It is an exciting opportunity to be able to have excellent care providers in more rural communities in Nebraska.”