ULLIN — Shawnee Community College is among a growing list of community colleges inking deals with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to allow nursing students a quicker path to a bachelor's degree.

SCC announced the new partnership with SIUE earlier this month. It allows students to count their general education coursework taken at SCC toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree awarded by SIUE. Under the program, students complete their general courses at SCC, and then complete their baccalaureate nursing coursework online through SIUE.

This allows students the ability to graduate from SCC and begin their nursing career while continuing their education online, college officials said. In addition to SIUE’s partnership agreement with Shawnee, numerous other community colleges also are participating. They are: Kaskaskia College, Lewis & Clark Community College; Rend Lake College; Southwestern Illinois College and Southeastern Illinois College.

Roberta Harrison, SIUE School of Nursing’s associate dean for academic programs and community/global partnerships, said in a statement that these partnerships are benefiting students who may not have originally seen themselves going into a four-year program.

“They can complete the coursework for an associate degree at the community college level,” she said. “When they transition into our online program, they can already see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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At SIUE’s sister campus in Carbondale, plans are underway to create a nursing program that also will include an option for registered nurses to earn a BSN when transferring in from a community college or from the workplace. Registered nurses practice with only an associate degree, but many hospitals offer increased pay to nurses with bachelor’s degrees, and one may be required for certain specialty fields.

SIUC also plans to secure similar articulation agreements with community colleges throughout the region, mirroring those it already has in place for various fields of study, officials previously told The Southern.

SCC President Peggy Bradford called the partnership with SIUE an exciting opportunity for the students that the college serves in the southernmost region of Illinois. That students can go to work in the medical field after earning their associate degree and then continue to take classes online toward their BSN “means students have one less roadblock to completion,” Bradford said in a statement.

“We are grateful that SIUE Nursing is working with us to further promote student success for our nursing students," Bradford said. 

SCC Vice Chairman Michael McMahan said the agreement provides a critical opportunity for students in Johnson, Massac, Pulaski, Alexander and Union counties.

The deal also “gives additional validity to our program because a four-year university has accepted on face value what we’re offering,” he said. McMahan said that endorsement could be helpful for recruitment. SCC maintains the option to enter into an articulation agreement with SIU Carbondale for its in-person RN-to-BSN program when that campus’ program is in place, he said, adding that the more diverse array of options that Shawnee can provide its students the better.

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On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​



Molly Parker is general assignment and investigative projects reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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