University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

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UW-Eau Claire and CVTC Announce Joint
Alliance to Increase Nursing Graduates

 MAILED:  Nov. 10, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Nursing enrollments in the Chippewa Valley will increase 10 percent in a year thanks to a new, joint venture that creates slots for an additional 24 nursing students.

The Chippewa Valley Nursing Alliance is a partnership of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College. The agreement promotes dual enrollments in the schools, providing opportunities for students to enroll in CVTC nursing classes and UW-Eau Claire general education classes concurrently.

UW-Eau Claire nursing programs turn away about 180 highly qualified students each year because the university lacks the funds to hire enough faculty to meet the needs of all nursing applicants, said Elaine Wendt, dean of UW-Eau Claire's College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The Chippewa Valley Nursing Alliance will allow 24 of those students to enroll in CVTC's associate degree nursing program, while continuing to take valuable general education classes at UW-Eau Claire. The students can live in UW-Eau Claire residence halls, they will have a UW-Eau Claire adviser and they'll have access to all other university services, Wendt said.

After completing the CVTC nursing associate degree program, students participating in the Chippewa Valley Nursing Alliance can enroll in the UW System's Collaborative Nursing Program to earn a nursing bachelor's degree from UW-Eau Claire. The Collaborative Nursing Program is designed for nurses with an associate degree or a diploma in nursing who want to earn a bachelor's degree, but have limited access to a campus offering a nursing program. The online program provides flexibility so students can pursue their degree without relocating. The nursing courses are available only to students registered in nursing programs at UW-Eau Claire or UW campuses in Madison, Oshkosh, Milwaukee and Green Bay.

The capacity for nursing education in the Chippewa Valley was recently expanded by the opening of CVTC's new $12 million Health Education Center in Eau Claire.

The Chippewa Valley Nursing Alliance also will make it possible for CVTC's existing nursing program to expand by eight students, said Joe Hegge, vice president of education at CVTC. Hegge said the net gain to the Chippewa Valley health care workforce will be up to 32 new nurses.

Chippewa Valley Technical College and UW-Eau Claire have crafted the pilot program to meet rising demand. Hospitals in western Wisconsin have expanded staffing sharply since 2000 and that growth is expected to continue — some say dramatically — as baby boomers retire and require more care.

Nursing graduates of both institutions take the same board exam to become registered nurses. The CVTC associate degree program requires two years of study. UW-Eau Claire's baccalaureate program takes four years and adds a breadth of nursing and liberal studies coursework. A bachelor's degree is needed to enter a nursing master's degree program.

Hegge said the shortage of qualified nursing instructors, a past limitation, will be eased by the new arrangement because pool of qualified master's students should expand.

"That's a necessity for boosting the number of nursing instructors and professors," CVTC Health Campus Administrator Margaret Dickens said. A master's in nursing is required to teach at both CVTC and UW-Eau Claire.

Dickens said another limitation to expanded nursing education in the Chippewa Valley has been a shortage of clinical sites at which students acquire firsthand experience. "Our Human Patient Simulation lab will help address that," she said.

UW-Eau Claire students will retain status at the university after admission to CVTC for the special program. Participating CVTC students will be drawn from existing waiting lists.

"This is an incredible partnership," Steve Tallant, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs at UW-Eau Claire, said of the agreement. "We're efficiently using resources to graduate more nurses, which helps our community and our state. And it gives highly qualified students who want to be nurses a chance to pursue their dreams. Collaborative programs like this one are the kinds of things that public higher education institutions should be doing to help the region and state."

Nursing instruction will take place at the new CVTC Health Education Center on Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire. The new center is within walking distance of UW-Eau Claire's upper campus and is connected by a covered walk bridge to CVTC's Clairemont campus.

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JB

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: November 11, 2004