Baltimore's newest degree-granting nursing program is tailored for people who want to provide "hands-on" care and will get students into hospitals in their first year.
Other four-year nursing schools usually delay clinical work until the last two years.
The Villa Julie College-Union Memorial Hospital program also is designed to meet the needs of a large number of adults now changing careers and showing an interest in nursing. Thus, it will be available on nights and weekends.
The joint program, which will open next September, has been approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Maryland Board of Nursing, according to Carolyn Manuszak, president of Villa Julie, and Constance F. Row, president of Union Memorial.
Row, who took over the reins of Union Memorial Hospital last spring, said yesterday the "hands on" program is "aimed directly" at people whose goal is actual nursing care.
"That's where the focus is," she said. "It's not meant to train people who want to go on to get Ph.Ds.
"Hospitals are becoming increasingly complex and nursing certainly has mirrored that over the years."
Dr. Rose Dawson, vice president and dean of Villa Julie, and Judith A. Feustle, who directs the Union Memorial School of Nursing, agreed that "as standards and work requirements in the profession have advanced, the need for a nurse prepared with a bachelor of science degree has increased."
The new program also seeks to do its part in easing a national shortage of nurses.
In a 1988 report, the federal Commission on Nursing warned that the shortage of registered nurses is real and widespread, affecting all health-care delivery settings -- hospital, nursing home, home health and outpatient care.
The commission warned that the shortage might already be having a negative effect on the quality of patient care and access to health services.
"There is such a shortage of nurses that people will actually refashion the job to suit the nurses' needs and interests," Manuszak said. "That's happening all over the nation."
In the nation's hospitals, where two-thirds of all RNs work, demand for full-time equivalent RNs outstrips supply by 199,400, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nearly 1.7 million registered nurses are now in the work force.
The AACN said the supply of RNs is the highest in history, but surging demand has far outstripped supply. Much of the demand is the result of progressively complex health-care policies, more complicated drug regimens and sophisticated, yet heavily monitored technology requiring additional personnel.
Aware of wider opportunities for career advancement, RNs with a hospital diploma or two-year associate degree are returning to school in increasing numbers to earn the baccalaureate, AACN reported. In the past five years, full-time enrollment of RNs in baccalaureate programs rose by a dramatic 44.7 percent.
Despite gains, federal estimates project the nation will have a shortage of 428,000 baccalaureate-prepared RNs by the year 2000.
Next fall, the 100-year-old former Union Memorial Hospital three-year diploma nursing program will begin providing clinical training facilities, instruction and housing for the joint baccalaureate program. Plans call for the remodeling of living quarters student nurses now occupy and the purchase of more apartments and townhouses, according to Row.
Villa Julie College will be responsible for the baccalaureate academic program, faculty appointments, library, student services and degree requirements. The new joint program will lead to a bachelor of science in nursing. Although the tuition has not been set, Manuszak said she believes it will be about $5,400 a year.
At present, Villa Julie offers a two-year prenursing course and graduates go to another institution to get a four-year baccalaureate degree.
Applications are now being accepted for the fall semester. Admission and registration matters will be handled by the college. Those seeking additional information should call the college at 486-7001.