Western Governors University to Celebrate Graduation of Students from the Nation's First Online, Competency-Based Prelicensure N

Special Pinning Ceremony to Take Place at Partner Hospital Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles

SALT LAKE CITY, July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On July 23, Western Governors University, www.wgu.edu, will join with its southern California partner hospitals to celebrate the graduation of the first students from its one-of-a-kind nursing prelicensure degree program. During the event, which will take place at 8:45 a.m. (PDT) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Thalians Auditorium, students will watch WGU's semi-annual commencement online and participate in a traditional nursing "pinning" ceremony.

WGU's B.S. in Nursing (Prelicensure) program is the nation's first online, competency-based bachelor's degree program designed to prepare students for initial licensure as registered nurses. The CCNE-approved program combines WGU's online, competency-based academic approach with clinical simulations and clinical intensives supervised by onsite clinical coaches and instructors serving as WGU adjunct faculty. More than 100 students are currently enrolled in the program, which is now operating at select locations in California and Texas and is scheduled to expand to Florida, Indiana, and Utah in the next six months.

This innovative program was developed by nonprofit WGU in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and major healthcare partners, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, HCA, Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Healthcare West, and Tenet Healthcare. This partnership was created to address the growing shortage of registered nurses by making quality nursing education more accessible.

Cedars-Sinai Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Linda Burnes Bolton, DrPH, RN, FAAN, one of the leaders in the conception of WGU's B.S. in Nursing program, said, "We began work on this program because the nation needs more valid, reliable mechanisms to produce baccalaureate-prepared nurses. WGU's competency-based, online prelicensure program has proven that it can help meet that need. Congratulations to these first students on their achievement and to WGU for creating this path."

Participating hospitals and clinical partners include:

  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Fountain Valley regional Medical Center
  • Huntington Memorial Hospital
  • Lakewood Regional Medical Center
  • Los Alamitos Medical Center
  • Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Access
  • Riverside Community Hospital
  • St. Francis Medical Center
  • St. John's Well Child and Family Clinic
  • Watts Clinic

"Our country is facing a growing shortage of baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses, and we're challenged with finding a way to make quality nursing education more accessible," said Jan Jones-Schenk, WGU Chief Nursing Officer. "WGU's program allows students to complete their studies and their clinical requirements without leaving their homes and families. This unique program provides each student with one-on-one clinical coaching in addition to individualized mentoring by qualified nursing faculty and high fidelity simulation labs.  We know that this nursing education will directly help to improve the quality of healthcare in the U.S. We're very proud of our first graduates, and we are confident that they are well-prepared to enter the workforce."

About Western Governors University's B.S. in Nursing (Prelicensure) Program

WGU's B.S. in Nursing (Prelicensure) degree program is designed to provide students with the content knowledge and extensive in-hospital clinical experience need to earn a bachelor's degree in Nursing and prepare students to sit for the national NCLEX licensing exam. Clinical experience includes intensive work in simulation labs and in healthcare facilities under the guidance of expert staff nurses who provide coaching and clinical learning opportunities. For more information regarding the program, go to http://www.wgu.edu/RN , or call 1-866-225-5948.

About Western Governors University (WGU)

"[WGU is] the best relatively cheap university you've never heard of."– TIME magazine

Featured on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, WGU is the only university in the U.S. offering competency-based degree programs and the only nonprofit, fully online university with students in all 50 states. WGU offers degree programs in Business, Education, Information Technology, and Healthcare Professions, including Nursing. Founded by 19 U.S. governors in 1997, WGU's mission is to increase access to quality higher education. Since it opened its virtual doors in 1999, the university has grown into a national institution, serving more than 25,000 students. WGU is self-sustaining on tuition, and does not rely on state or national support to fund its operations.  

WGU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). WGU nursing programs, which have nearly 2,500 students nationwide, have been accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). WGU's Teachers College is the first and only exclusively online provider of teacher education to receive accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as AT&T, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dell, the Eli Lilly Foundation, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, Qwest, SunGard Higher Education, and Zions Bank. More information is available at www.wgu.edu.

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SOURCE Western Governors University