Topeka More than 100 students are tapping into the resources of a new affiliation between the oldest university and oldest nursing program in the state.
Baker University in Baldwin and Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center in Topeka joined forces this fall to provide three degree tracks in nursing education.
Baker's School of Nursing offers an associate degree program for licensed practical nurses interested in continuing their education and taking the licensing examinations to become registered nurses; a bachelor of science in nursing track for non-nurses interested in entering the profession; and a bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program for RNs who have yet to earn their bachelor's degree.
Students complete a general education program at the Baldwin campus, or at another accredited college, and then continue in a clinical setting at the Topeka hospital, according to Elaine Harvey, dean of the nursing school.
"All of the nursing courses but four have clinical components," she said. "That's where it is bedside and practice. Each course can have 12 hours a week of clinical practice. They take one clinical course at a time."
STORMONT-VAIL officials closed the hospital's nursing diploma program in 1987 and decided to affiliate with a college to offer a four-year degree program in nursing, Harvey said. They first contracted with St. Mary of the Plains College, which offered a nursing school in Wichita. However, the hospital served as a satellite of the existing nursing school instead of operating its own program as it does with Baker, Harvey said.
"Our relationship with Baker has been nothing but marvelous," she said, adding that the university's national reputation has attracted students to the nursing school.
Students can receive a partial or total tuition waiver at the nursing school if they agree to work at Stormont-Vail after graduating, Harvey said. While they will earn a salary as nurses in the hospital, they also will pay back the school in work hours.
KEITH Keeling, provost at Baker, said a number of reasons motivated the university to add nursing education. "All schools operate from a statement of mission shaped by the heritage and identity of the school," he said. The nursing program was a natural extension of Baker's mission, to provide educational services for people of the region, he said.
Through its affiliation with the United Methodist Church, Baker also focuses on community service, and nursing education provides training in a field suffering a nationwide personnel shortage, Keeling said.
"Nursing education is an important service to the community," he said. "It will provide a significant service for the people of the Topeka region."