Lebanon Valley College Announces Nursing Degree

a male nurse checks the dosage on his digital tablet supervised by his staff nurse

Lebanon Valley College (LVC) has received initial approval from the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing to offer a four-year bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN). The new degree expands the College’s health professions offerings, which include athletic training, clinical mental health counseling, communication sciences and disorders/speech-language pathology, exercise science, sport performance, applied kinesiology, clinical exercise physiology, and physical therapy. The College will begin accepting applications for Fall 2022 enrollment this summer. 

“LVC has an excellent track record of preparing highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals,” said Dr. James M. MacLaren, LVC president. “Our new program will address our region’s nursing shortage. LVC nurses will be inclusive, interculturally skilled, and committed to treating each patient as a unique individual.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job opportunities for nurses in Pennsylvania to increase 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, which translates to about 19,000 new positions. Dr. Monica Cowart, LVC’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, led the nursing program’s development. She cited a 2018 American Association of Colleges of Nursing report indicating that 88.4 percent of employers expressed a strong preference for BSN graduates. The demand for nurses spans the healthcare industry. Nurses can work in long-term care, geriatrics, rehabilitation, critical care, pediatrics, home health care, education, job training, and more. Cowart said the average annual pay for BSN jobs is $81,549 a year in Pennsyvania, according to ZipRecruiter.com. Employers often provide hiring incentives including signing bonuses and housing.

LVC nursing graduates will be prepared for the NCLEX-RN exam and licensure as RNs. “The concept-based curriculum aligns with the way nurses think and emphasizes the development of clinical judgment,” said Cowart. The first two years focus on written communication, active listening, intercultural competence, quantitative reasoning, applied knowledge, critical thinking, and the ability to solve complex problems by approaching them from multiple perspectives. The final two years emphasize nursing-specific courses, technology, research, and clinical experiences with application of a formalized approach to learning specific clinical judgment framework for the goal of improving patient outcomes. Faculty will mentor students throughout the program.

LVC has established partnerships with clinical sites including Cornwall Manor, Lebanon Valley Brethren Home (Londonderry), Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital to provide high-quality patient-care and healthcare system experiences. The College is exploring additional partnerships to expand the diversity of experiences available to nursing majors.

“We are happy to be a part of a new nursing program in central Pennsylvania,” said Fallon Hughes, director of Nursing Education and Professional Development at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “My team is looking forward to working with LVC nursing faculty and students when they are ready to start their clinical training at Hershey Medical Center. We are excited to help build the pool of highly-trained nurses in a region with growing healthcare needs.”  

“Healthcare organizations seek highly skilled nurses with BSN degrees and soft skills, such as the ability to collaborate in team environments, communicate effectively, problem-solve complex situations, and adapt to an ever changing sector,” said Cowart. “I’m grateful to our partners for providing our students with clinical experiences that will prepare them to provide effective, patient-centered care across the lifespan. Because of LVC’s curriculum and mentoring, they will be empowered to make a difference in their field and in the lives of their patients.”

LVC has engaged architects Noelker and Hull Associates Inc. to construct a new academic facility next to its Jeanne and Edward H. Arnold Health Professions Pavilion to house the BSN program. Pending Board of Trustees’ approval, construction is scheduled to begin Fall 2021, with an anticipated December 2022 completion date. 

The facility will include simulation and skills laboratory space. The simulation lab will contain manikin simulators from Laerdal including Nursing Anne Simulator, SimMom, SimJunior, SimBaby with Tracheostomy, Skills Lab-Nursing Anne, and all related hardware, software, and camera equipment. The LVC simulation program will ensure all patients in the scenarios are inclusive of all races, religions, ages, and gender identities to provide students with a comprehensive cultural competency experience.

The Pennsylvania Board of Nursing approved LVC’s BSN proposal on April 28, 2021, and placed the nursing education program on “initial approval.” LVC will pursue program accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and soon launch a search for the program chair, director of simulation/skills lab, director of clinical education, and faculty.

Prospective students can apply for admission using the LVC undergraduate admission application or the Common Application, both of which will begin accepting applicants this summer. 


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