Nursing program coming to UNI in fall 2024

Finding qualified health care professionals is becoming exceedingly challenging, particularly in rural areas and in long-term care facilities. Long-term projections by Iowa Workforce Development indicate that registered nurses represent the top employment need in the state that will require a four-year baccalaureate degree. Based on figures from the Iowa Board of Nursing, nearly 80% of employers in the state indicate that it is difficult or very difficult to recruit nurses. In addition, data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicates that over 8,000 qualified applicants for nursing programs in the Midwest were denied entry last year.

The University of Northern Iowa will join its fellow Iowa Regent institutions at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The objective of UNI's initiative is to provide more seats at a public university to students who seek to pursue a nursing career and ultimately increase the number of working nurses in the state of Iowa, and not to draw candidates away from existing programs. UNI anticipates that its initial cohort of undergraduate students enrolling in its BSN program in fall 2024 will consist of approximately 24 students, with a projected enrollment of 96 students by year four and five.

"Research indicates that health care, and specifically nursing, is the most in-demand field of study among Iowa students seeking a four-year degree," said UNI President Mark A. Nook. "We believe UNI is uniquely positioned to provide the combination of hands-on experience and curriculum necessary to serve the students and residents of our state."

Dr. Nancy Kertz

Dr. Nancy Kertz will serve as the university's executive director of nursing and chief academic nurse administrator (CANA). Owning 17 years of experience in higher education leadership and nursing program development, Dr. Kertz will lead UNI's efforts to launch its first stand-alone nursing program. Dr. Kertz will play a strategic role in developing a cutting-edge curriculum, in addition to obtaining state and national accreditation. Dr. Kertz will also figure prominently in developing strategic community partnerships with clinical experience providers

In addition to engaging with its fellow Regent institutions in Iowa to provide more access to nursing education, UNI also plans to continue its collaborative relationship with Allen College – UnityPoint Health in Waterloo. Current UNI students taking their general education coursework may still complete their clinical training at Allen College. UNI and Allen College are discussing potential models to improve and expand their existing relationship in an effort to train additional nurses for the Iowa workforce.

The Iowa Board of Regents approved the proposal from UNI to proceed with the planning, development and implementation of a BSN program at their Nov. 10 Board meeting.