Twenty students made history this semester at Union College by showing up to class. They are the first students admitted in the nursing program's new second admission cycle. Previously the program accepted just one class annually, but interest in the program has surged in recent years. With so many qualified applicants, it became impossible to accept everyone.
"Given our nursing program's higher-than-average completion rate and general reputation, as well as the college's tradition of service, we have more applicants than we can serve with just one admission per year," said Malcolm Russell, vice president for Academic Administration.
Union College's nursing program will now accept two classes of 24 students each year instead of one class of 30. Eventually the program will educate 144 undergraduates at a time, up from 90 last year. That's more than a 60-percent increase in enrollment.
With a shorter wait between admission cycles, impatient applicants may not turn to other school's programs. "I love it here at Union," said Jason Odenthal, who was recently accepted into the program. "Expanding the program made it possible for me to stay."
As the program's popularity has soared, so have class sizes. "Over the last several years we have admitted classes of 28, 30, and even 36," said Jeff Joiner, chair of the Health Sciences division. "This year's graduating class will have over 36 students." For a program setup to handle 24 students per admission cycle, the larger classes were beginning to put a strain on classroom space as well as the teaching faculty.
To support this new growth, the nursing program has grown and adapted. Vicki Smith and Amy Bollinger joined the teaching faculty this year, while other instructors have started teaching larger classes. The program will be adding more professors, and eventually all nursing classes will be taught twice a year
With so many new students, the program's demand for space has grown. The physician assistant program, which shares classroom space with the nursing program, also recently added a second class. "Between three levels of nursing students and two levels of physician assistant students plus several newly added international rescue and relief classes taught in the Division of Health Science, we've become very proficient at juggling classrooms from period to period," Joiner said. "We know the college has made addressing our classroom space a priority, and until plans can be implemented we'll keep juggling."
For more information on Union College's Nursing Program, visit www.ucollege.edu/nursing, or call (402) 486-2524. The application deadline for the August class is in March, while the January class deadline is in October. Students admitted to the program must have already been accepted by Union College and completed 32 semester hours of prerequisite courses with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75.