Local News

Castleton University launches Master of Science in Nursing

Castleton University will help meet regional healthcare employers’ needs by offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), beginning in the spring 2021 semester.

The program offers a Clinical Nurse Leader concentration and a Nurse Educator concentration. It is designed for working nurses with a bachelor’s degree who wish to advance their careers. Castleton is now accepting applications for the spring semester.

Angie Smith, DNP, assistant dean of the School of Nursing, said the growing complexity and diversity of the healthcare environment and a severe national nursing shortage led to the development of this program.

“While CU is doing a great job providing qualified baccalaureate nurses to the community, the demands of healthcare have increased the need to prepare and employ clinical nurse leaders,” Smith said. “Due to increasing complexities in healthcare, several employers have reached out to CU to ask that we help prepare Vermont registered nurses to be clinical nurse leaders at the bedside.”

The Clinical Nurse Leader concentration will equip graduates for leadership positions in clinical settings. Graduates will be qualified to sit for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing certification examination for CNLs. The Nurse Educator concentration prepares graduates to train nurses in academic and clinical settings. Graduates of the nurse educator concentration will be qualified to sit for the National League for Nursing certification examination for either certified nurse educator or certified academic clinical nurse educator.

Smith said the Vermont Talent Pipeline Project identified a lack of qualified nursing faculty as a bottleneck to producing qualified nurses.

“This nursing faculty shortage is a mix of both classroom and clinical nursing faculty. Vermont must attract and prepare qualified nursing faculty to supply larger cohorts of baccalaureate-prepared nurses to Vermont employers,” Smith said.

The year-round degree program requires 40 credits and is designed for part-time study. Twenty-six credits are shared between the two concentrations, and 14 credits are distinct to each concentration. Students take a single three- or four-credit course in an eight-week term followed immediately by a second 3- or 4-credit course in an eight-week term. These eight-week terms fit into existing semesters as well as a summer term. It takes 24 months to complete the degree if the students enroll in every course as described.

Castleton University’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). However, the first MSN students must be enrolled for one full academic year before CCNE conducts an on-site accreditation visit, which is expected around January 2022. The Vermont Board of Nursing (BON) has approved the MSN program to begin enrolling students.

Castleton’s School of Nursing has expanded in recent years, adding an online RN-to-BS program and establishing a campus in Bennington, in addition to the master’s degree program.

For more information, visit castleton.edu/msn.

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