Partnership helps nurses earn degrees

Education Beat


When Tierney Gleason finishes the registered nursing program at Carroll Community College next spring, she has to decide whether to look for a job or to keep taking classes.

Although Gleason, 27, of Finksburg, said she thinks she will work for a while, the college is making it easier for students in the nursing program who want to continue with their education.

Through a recently formed partnership with Villa Julie College, Carroll Community College is giving students in its nursing program the opportunity to seamlessly transfer to the four-year institution to finish a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Students studying criminal justice at Carroll will also be able to easily transfer. They will complete their last two years at Villa Julie for a bachelor's degree and then can continue through another partnership with the Maryland State Police to get a master's degree in forensic science.

The agreements make it easier for students to plan their schedules because the classes needed to transfer are outlined.

"I think it is good for students to know all the options up front," Gleason said.

Many students will take advantage of the partnership, said Judith A. Coen, chairwoman of the division of mathematics, sciences, health and wellness at Carroll.

"The roadblocks aren't there. This is such a user-friendly college. Villa Julie makes it so easy," Coen said.

Besides the agreement with Villa Julie, Carroll has agreements with all public and most private institutions in Maryland and some in other states that enable students in various programs to easily continue their education at other schools, said Kristine DeWitt, director of transfer and retention at Carroll.

The partnership provides more options for students attending the community college and addresses issues of time and cost, college officials said.

"It's all about access and cost, and this really solves both problems," said Paul D. Lack, executive vice president for academic affairs at Villa Julie.

Students who intend to continue academic study won't have to repeat classes, take classes they don't need or worry whether their credits are going to transfer.

Judith A. Feustle, nursing director at Villa Julie, said the connection says to students that "everything you've already done before counts." She said that's a different message than picking and choosing from the classes they have taken to determine what can count.

"One of the things we've done that is really unique in our nursing program is partnering with the community college, with the idea that it can be really frustrating for nurses to look at going back to college to get a bachelor's degree," Feustle said.

Some nursing classes will be taught at Carroll by Villa Julie faculty, which makes it more convenient for Carroll's nursing students who mostly live and work in the county, community college faculty said.

The connection to Villa Julie is a further expansion of Carroll's nursing program, which was started to address the need for health care professionals.

After the opening of the $6.1 million, 31,000-square-foot red-brick Nursing and Allied Health building last fall, the college graduated its first class of registered nursing students. Before the building's opening, the college offered only a licensed practical nursing program and students had to transfer to Frederick Community College or apply to another school to become a registered nurse.

Gleason said she feels the education she received at Carroll has prepared her to enter the work force and will prepare other students to continue their education.

"What they teach us here is to continually use our critical thinking skills. We're constantly using analysis and application processes," Gleason said.

Kevin Manning, Villa Julie's president, said the college is happy to work with Carroll to provide continuing educational opportunities in the critical area of nursing.

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