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Penn College to explore offering graduate degree in nursing

Pennsylvania College of Technology will begin exploring the addition of a second master’s degree to its slate of academic offerings.

The Penn College Board of Directors on Thursday authorized the college administration to begin developing the curriculum for a Master of Science in Nursing.

Once the curriculum is developed and approved through campus processes, it will come back to the board for final approval.

The new MSN degree is proposed to have two program options: family nurse practitioner and nursing education. It would be offered online, allowing students to balance work, family and school obligations. Full-time students would complete their degree requirements within two years.

The impetus for the second proposed graduate-level offering is an increased demand for nurses – particularly FNP- and NE-qualified – at the local, state and national levels. Pennsylvania is among the top 10 locations nationwide with a high demand for family nurse practitioners.

“The potential to expand our nursing education program to include advanced practice at the graduate level is very exciting for the college and for our partners in the health care industry,” said Paul L. Starkey, vice president for academic affairs/provost. “There is a huge demand for such nurses. As always, our curriculum offerings align with our mission of providing high-quality, applied technology education that addresses workforce needs.”

Nurses with master’s degrees are employed in a variety of health care settings including postsecondary education, acute care, physician offices, long-term care, urgent care, home health care, and state and federal agencies.

The family nurse practitioner track of the degree would meet guidelines required by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, allowing graduates to become a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP), the license required to practice in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

There is no similar requirement for nursing educators. Experienced preceptors would be utilized for practice-based clinical and hands-on learning experiences.

The proposed timeline calls for an anticipated launch date in Fall 2021. Implementation of the MSN program would require the college to hire additional full-time nursing faculty and administration.

According to Burning Glass Technologies, over the past year, there were 680 nursing educator and 2,054 nurse practitioner job postings within a two-hour radius of Williamsport. In the same time period, Pennsylvania had 2,869 nursing educator and 9,952 nurse practitioner job postings. Nationally, there were 87,640 nursing educator and 272,580 nurse practitioner job postings.

In Fall 2017, Penn College began offering its first graduate degree, a combined Bachelor/Master of Science in physician assistant studies. Students in that program complete a pre-professional phase for the first three years and a professional phase for the final two.

Penn College’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences offers academic programs in applied health studies, dental hygiene, emergency medical services/paramedic, health information technology, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, physician assistant, radiography/medical imaging, and surgical technology. To learn more, call 570-327-4519.

For information about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call 800-367-9222.

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