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St. John’s University applies for new nursing program

St. John's University is planning on adding a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing to meet the explosive demand nationwide to be housed at its new Health Sciences Center. (Photo courtesy of St. John's University)

While hospitals were overwhelmed with patients from coast to coast during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of the nursing profession soared in the national conscience.

In celebration of National Nurses Week, St. John’s University announced that it has recently applied to the New York State Education Department for approval to offer a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree in nursing. Pending state approval, the university anticipates the program could begin as early as fall 2022.

“Service is a core value at St. John’s University,” SJU President Rev. Brian J. Shanley said. “Our obligation and commitment to service lie not only in our active compassion as an institution, but in the cultivation of skilled service professionals in high-demand professions like nursing.”

Nursing is a leader in job growth in the United States. Demand for nurses is expected to grow with an aging population, longer life spans and steady growth in the number of patients with chronic medical conditions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections 2019-2029, registered nursing (RN) is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2029.

The RN workforce is expected to grow from 3 million in 2019 to 3.3 million in 2029, an increase of 221,000 or 7 percent. The bureau also projects 175,000 openings for RNs each year through 2029, when nurse retirements and workforce exits are factored into the number of nurses needed in the U.S.

The proposed program will be housed in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at St. John’s University, the largest provider of health-care personnel in Queens, and one of the major health-care educators in the New York City region.

“We must act now to meet the projected demand for increased nursing services, including the need for more nursing professionals, nurse faculty, researchers and primary care providers,” College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Dean Russell J. DiGate, Ph.D. said. “Research indicates a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes.”

In New York, the “BSN in 10 Law” passed in 2017 requires registered nurses to have earned at least a Bachelor of Science in nursing within 10 years of their initial licensure to continue practicing. Although the law applies to nurses within the state of New York, the legislation is expected to have nationwide ramifications.

St. John’s University is also making major investments in health sciences. In March, the university announced plans for the construction of a new Health Sciences Center at the Jamaica campus, estimated to cost approximately $78 million. This capital project is expected to commence in the fall, and the building is expected to be ready for occupancy and available for students and classes by the fall of 2024.

The Health Sciences Center will promote inter-professional education among existing academic programs and enable students to learn together and work as a team, similar to the real-world situation found in clinical settings. Additionally, the new Health Sciences Center will house state-of-the-art simulation facilities for students to learn in a safe and realistic clinical environment before embarking upon required clinical rotation requirements at off-campus sites.

Nursing education is not new to St. John’s University, which is concluding its 150th anniversary celebration. In 1937, a Department of Nursing was formed at SJU within the School of Education. The department became a separate School of Nursing Education in 1942, helping to train nurses during World War II. In 1958, the school again became a department under The School of Education, before being discontinued in 1966.

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