There is a particular need for nurses in surgical nursing, which is not as appealing to many as specialty programs such as labor and delivery, Hopkins faculty said. The new program is geared to get nurses into acute care and surgical nursing.
"If you're an emergency room nurse it's kind of cool. If you're an OB/GYN nurse it's kind of cool," said Elizabeth Jordan, director of the Johns Hopkins baccalaureate program in nursing. "Surgical nursing isn't as sexy."
The College of Notre Dame, which is changing its name to Notre Dame of Maryland University starting next fall, is accepting applications now for its first four-year, entry-level bachelor of science program and will begin enrolling students next fall.
It currently offers only bachelor's degrees geared to students who have earned diplomas or associate degrees in nursing from a community college but don't have a four-year degree. It also has master's programs. The nursing school, which is now under the school of arts and sciences, will soon become an independent school.
"We felt like we needed to educate people who are not nurses so we could contribute to the work force in that way," said Katharine C. Cook, who heads the nursing program at College of Notre Dame.
The new programs join other efforts made in recent years to increase the nursing ranks.
The University of Maryland School of Nursing launched a clinical program in 2005 that allows students who have degrees in other fields to earn a postgraduate degree in nursing. The school also has an Institute for Educators in Nursing and Health Professions, where students can earn a postgraduate certificate that would allow them to teach.
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has a program that pays for nurses to attend graduate school. The state's largest insurer, which employs about 300 nurses, created the program in 2007 and has given stipends of $40,000 per year toward their degree. Twelve of those nurses now teach in the classroom.
"We found that nurses wanted to get degrees, but there were limitations and one of those was financing," said Lisa Kraus, vice president of care management for CareFirst. "The nursing shortage is very real and very imminent. We want to in the future be able to hire qualified nurses."
Baltimore-area schools that offer nursing programs
The Johns Hopkins University
University of Maryland
College of Notre Dame of Maryland
Coppin State University