EWU Nursing Program Earns Approval to Move Ahead

(Listen and read the story on Spokane Public Radio)

After years of discussions and pre-planning, Eastern Washington University has received state approval to move forward with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

The new program will allow Eastern to help address a shortage of nurses that is burdening health-care providers across the nation. 

Provost Jonathan Anderson says the nursing degree program represents an exciting moment for the university. “This program expands our offerings in the health sciences and continues Eastern’s mission as a driving force for workforce development of our region and our state.”

Starting in January 2023, students can apply for admission to the EWU nursing program, with an inaugural cohort of 40 students starting during fall semester of 2023. Another 40 students will be admitted in spring 2024.

“There is a critical shortage of nurses in the region, and Eastern aims to help increase capacity by graduating up to 80 new nurses each year,” says Donna Bachand, RN, PhD, professor and nursing program administrator.

Earlier this year, Washington state lawmakers approved a two-year, $6.1 million grant to help Eastern cover some of the costs of expanding its two-year pre-nursing program into a four-year bachelor’s of nursing program, a move that will open doors for the 200-plus freshmen who declare pre-nursing majors at EWU to potentially stay and complete their four-year degrees.

“Most of our pre-nursing students choose to come to Eastern for a reason. Now they will be able to complete their degrees in their university of first choice,” says Bachand.

Anderson praised Bachand and Donna Mann, interim dean of the EWU College of Health Science and Public Health, for their work with the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission in helping EWU earn initial approval. There is still work to do, however, as Eastern now enters the third of a four-phase process that involves finalizing the program and its teaching center. Following completion of these steps, the university will move forward toward full approval and national accreditation.  

Eastern’s nursing program will be housed inside the SIERR Building, located at 850 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. on the furthest east extension of the University District, near downtown Spokane. Anderson says the program’s location within the Health Peninsula — a hub for research, development and advancement of health sciences — will help to further strengthen the university’s partnerships with other health education centers in the area. 

Private fundraising is underway to ensure that the new school is equipped with state-of-the art medical simulation suites, laboratories and classrooms in order to train students to tackle diverse modern-day healthcare challenges. Benefactors are starting to pledge lead gifts and make donations to support start-up costs and scholarships for the new program.

Eastern’s program will initially have a director of nursing, nine full-time faculty, three staff and additional part-time clinical instructors. Special emphasis will be placed on providing care for the rural and underserved urban populations of our region. In addition, behavioral health concepts will be incorporated across the curriculum so students will be better prepared to work in integrated health care systems, says Bachand.

 “We are planning more community-based clinical learning experiences in addition to the more traditional acute care experiences,” Bachand says. “Because the nursing program is housed in a college that offers multiple clinical degrees, there are opportunities to design interprofessional learning and practice opportunities.”

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