The Jacksonville University School of Nursing is now recruiting qualified veteran RNs into an on-campus cohort of students who will benefit from an $870,000 federal grant JU received to help them excel as they pursue bachelor’s degrees in nursing.
The grant to JU, awarded through the Health Resources and Human Services agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be used to enhance recruitment and advance education, graduation, employment and retention of qualified veterans seeking BSNs. JU’s School of Nursing was one of only nine nursing schools nationally to be awarded the grant, one of JU’s largest in the past five years.
“We’re extremely excited about the launch of this new program,” said Associate Professor Lynnette Kennison, JU’s Veteran BSN Project Director and a retired Colonel from the Army National Guard. “It will significantly improve the ability of local veteran RNs to obtain a Jacksonville University BSN degree, and will most certainly lead to enhanced levels of nursing care throughout the community.”
Up to 25 veterans are expected in the first on-campus cohort starting in May. Once enrolled, they will receive assistance such as tutoring; career and stress management/resiliency training; focus and support group help; linkages with veteran service organizations and community health systems; and even Heartmath training, which is a biofeedback technique to help with reducing stress, promoting resilience and improving focus.
Kennison added that “Initial response from local hospitals and veterans organizations has been quite encouraging.”
The new veteran RN to BSN cohort is based on an established successful RN to BSN off-campus RN-BSN program. The HRSA grant has allowed the School of Nursing to bolster existing JU programs supporting higher education, including veteran-specific counseling and veteran-specific tutoring. Additionally, a full-time veteran BSN Program Advisor, Sam Young, MD, has been hired and integrated into the School of Nursing. Young, a combat veteran, is a retired U.S. Army Family Physician with more than three decades’ experience in clinical, operational and academic medicine.
“I am thrilled to be part of this tremendous program, and truly amazed at the pro-veteran learning environment created by JU students, faculty and administration,” he said. “This, coupled with a strong veteran cohort identity, will ensure the success of our students.”
Because veterans have already earned their VA educational benefits, it is important not to lose them by inaction, or to waste them with poor choices, Young added. “Choosing the right career path, the right educational institution and the right program is extremely important. Veterans deserve the best we can offer, and the best is here at JU.”
The JU Veteran BSN Program supports three distinct educational tracks: Track 1 helps qualified pre-licensure Veterans obtain a BSN through traditional, transfer, or second degree full time on campus study. Track 2 promotes on-campus RN to BSN of existing veteran RNs from the community. Track 3 promotes RN to BSN education of existing veteran RNs worldwide via on-line study.
In the first year alone, projections are for 31 additional veterans to be added to Nursing Track 1 (students with little or no medical background), up to 25 more to Track 2 (those with an associate degree in nursing) and 34 more to Track 3 (online students with an associate degree in nursing).
The first Track 2 Veteran on-campus RN-BSN Cohort begins in May. It is an 18-month accelerated adult education program consisting of 10 individual eight-week nursing courses, totaling 32 credit hours. Students will attend one afternoon/evening class per week, allowing them to remain employed while in the program.
For more on this unique program, see a .pdf below. It includes general information, admission requirements and curriculum.