On the Fast Track: Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden Graduates First Cohort of Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Students

The first cohort of students to complete the Accelerated bachelor of Science in Nursing program entirely at Rutgers-Camden graduated in December 2015.

The first cohort of students to complete the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program entirely at Rutgers-Camden graduated in December 2015. Photo courtesy of Kim Sokoloff.

After 15 months with their foot on the gas pedal, a cohort of 33 Rutgers University–Camden nursing students are finally able to ease off the accelerator and cruise to the finish line.

The students, who graduated Dec. 12, are the first to complete the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program entirely at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. Rutgers–Camden took over the program from the legacy University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing at Stratford when the two institutions merged in July 2014. Previous cohorts to complete the program at Rutgers–Camden began it at UMDNJ.

The program provides students with an opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing after earning a degree in a different discipline. It is designed so that students effectively complete an exemplary nursing curriculum within four consecutive semesters.

“The ABSN program at Rutgers was an awesome experience,” says Leonard Goldberg, a Lindenwold resident who earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from Stockton University. “The instructors truly set you up for success.  The program allowed me to narrow down my field of choice through clinical experience. At first it was terrifying, because you realize this is really happening, but by experiencing clinical it allows you to put time into most facets of the nursing field and you can go from there.”

Renee Cantwell, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden and director of the accelerated degree program, says the program is designed to prepare nurse leaders who can provide evidence-based, patient-centered care.

“Our program builds on the unique gifts and talents each second-degree student brings to nursing,” Cantwell says. “Our graduating students have already made — and I believe will continue to make — a huge impact on the nursing profession. This first graduating cohort from Rutgers–Camden has demonstrated outstanding leadership and teamwork.”

The rigorous 63-credit program includes courses in wellness and health assessment; pathophysiology; pharmacology; nursing research; psychiatric mental health; gerontologic nursing; nursing of children and adolescents; community and global health; nursing management and leadership; a capstone course and clinical and community experiences.

The accelerated program also helps answer the demand of a growing population of students seeking nursing education in South Jersey, where jobs for registered nurses are expected to increase 19 percent within the next eight years. Healthcare agencies across the nation are working toward a recommendation by the Institute of Medicine that nurses with a bachelor’s degree constitute 80 percent of the nursing workforce by 2020.

“Through this program, I have worked alongside nurses in ICUs caring for some very ill patients with complex cases during my clinical rotations,” says Sheila McNally, a Marlton resident who earned her bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology from Temple University. “I am academically prepared for entry to practice because of this program, but what’s more important is my understanding of how much more I will have to learn and grow once I enter the field.”

“I have gained an appreciation for how demanding this career is and the need to become a life-long learner in order to provide the best care for today’s patients and I owe that to the unbelievable clinical staff,” McNally says. “This program is really fortunate to have so many dedicated clinical instructors who want nothing more than our future success in practice.”

For information about the Accelerated bachelor of Science in Nursing program, click here.

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