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ISU’s Mennonite College of Nursing expands to Springfield

“This exciting partnership will ultimately improve the lives and health of the people in the communities we serve,” said Ed Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health, who announced the initiative along with ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy at a press conference at the Memorial Learning Center. “This region, along with the nation and all of Illinois, faces a severe shortage of nurses. With our support, ISU can produce more registered nurses to serve the health care needs of the communities we serve.”

According to a recent American Association of Colleges of Nursing report, 80,407 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to an inadequate number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and other factors. This contrasts sharply with the growing demand for nurses. As an indicator, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 175,900 job openings for registered nurses annually through 2029. Many factors contribute to the nursing shortage, including retirements from the profession and other sources of workforce attrition and an increasing number of older adults in need of health care.

The new MCN location is expected to enroll its first class for fall 2023, with 24 to 48 undergraduate students anticipated in the initial cohort. Students will learn in a renovated building located at 200 N. Grand Ave. West, as well as at Memorial Health clinical sites, giving them a wide breadth of educational experiences.

“Plain and simple, we need more nurses, and we need them here in South Central Illinois,” said Judy Neubrander, MCN’s Dean. “By recruiting from the South Central Illinois area and with the opportunities Memorial can provide, we hope they will stay here after graduation.”

MCN has a 100-plus year history and joined ISU in 1999. The college enrolls a freshman class of about 170 each fall, a number that has grown consistently over the years. With a NCLEX pass rate of 96 percent, beating both the state and national average by 14 points, the program is highly sought after by prospective students.

“If we want to proactively address the increasing shortage of nurses, a partnership like this is perfect. It gives our program more capacity and provides a talent pool for health care facilities right here in the heart of Illinois. It’s a win-win-win,” Neubrander said.

“We hope many of these future graduates will continue to make the Springfield region their home,” said Marsha Prater, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for Memorial Health.

Memorial Health hospitals have received multiple Magnet and Pathway to Excellence designations, which recognize the highest standards of nursing quality.

“We look forward to providing these future nurses the opportunity to practice in an award-winning professional practice environment that has committed to raising the bar of nursing excellence, again and again.”

The curriculum and quality at the Springfield location will mirror that of the Normal campus. Prospective students can apply for the Springfield program now at nursing.illinoisstate.edu.

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