|Lauren Bounds, right, a student in the Marian University online nursing program at Saint Thomas Hospital, practices examining a patient with fellow student Dawn Tibbetts during a clinical class. Photo by Andy Telli
James Collins was a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee with a degree in kinesiology when he decided he wanted to do something different with his life.
He was looking into graduate schools while working at a nursing home when he found his calling. “I really loved working with the elderly and decided I wanted to spend my career caring for them.”
Collins is a part of a new partnership between Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville and Marian University in Indianapolis that will allow him to pursue his new career. The online program offers college graduates the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 16 months.
Marian University at Saint Thomas is designed for students who want to pursue nursing but have already earned a degree in another field.
“We’re different from Aquinas College and other schools who offer a traditional nursing degree,” said Samantha Montagno, director of community and corporate relations for the program. “Our classes are geared towards non-traditional students. Many of them are working and some have families of their own. We don’t offer four-year degrees or associate’s degrees. Our program is for people who have already gone to college but studied something other than nursing. We help them achieve their goal of becoming a nurse in a shortened amount of time.”
Marian University is a Catholic institution rooted in the Franciscan tradition. Thus, students must understand the Catholic view of the human person before they begin the accelerated nursing program. This ensures success in their coursework and their nursing careers.
As a part of application requirements, students must complete 36 hours of prerequisites in the sciences, theology and the humanities through Marian’s Adult Education Program. All prerequisites are offered online, and take eight weeks each to complete.
Additionally, students must have a minimum college GPA of 2.8. They must also speak with an admissions advisor, mail in an academic transcript from all previous colleges attended, and submit a $100 deposit.
The nursing curriculum itself is a balance of online coursework, hospital rotations and clinical skills practice in which students exercise their newly acquired knowledge in a hospital setting.
“Our clinical skills practices and hospital rotations are done on-site in the nursing lab at Saint Thomas (West) Hospital so our students gain real-world experience,” Montagno said.
The program’s expenses are high, with prerequisite course tuition costing $350 per credit hour and nursing courses costing $795 per credit hour. But students speak to a financial advisor during the admissions process to create an individualized financial aid package.
“We try to make it affordable for all of our students, and tailor their financial aid plans according to their own abilities to pay,” Montagno said.
This is the the first year the program has been offered in Nashville. A similar program is offered to students through St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, and it was expanded to Nashville in 2013. “We have our first cohort of students starting the program now. We’ll have three graduations each year, in May, August and December,” Montagno said.
The program’s first students are eager to begin their studies. “They’re very excited to begin their coursework,” Montagno said.
To learn more about Marian University at Saint Thomas, visit www.mariannursing.com/nashville