An aging Baby Boomer population, a national increase in chronic diseases, and a wave of retirements in the health field has created strong demand for a new nursing degree, McInnis said. “The Augustinian values and the mission of Merrimack College align perfectly with what nursing is all about — service to others,” he said.
The School of Health Sciences has put itself in a strong position to begin the nursing program. It has built great momentum in its academics throughout campus, regionally, and nationally, including establishment of the school in 2017 with new academic programs, elite faculty, and a brand-new home in O’Reilly Hall which has state of the art equipment and teaching/learning spaces.
Demand for the bachelor of science in nursing will outpace the available number of available slots, so the program will be highly selective and attract the finest students, McInnis said. The school plans to open with 30-40 students compared to other schools that average 80-90 students per class, so Merrimack students can expect greater interaction with their instructors.
The new program may open opportunities in the future to start a bachelor completion program for nurses who have associate degrees from other colleges, as well as the development of continuing education programs for area healthcare providers and a master’s degree in nursing.
Under the leadership of Health Sciences Assistant Dean Jessica Molignano and consultant Sharon George, the school is developing clinical affiliations and partnerships with a number of medical and health care institutions, including Lawrence General Hospital, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass., and Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverhill, Mass.
The School of Health Sciences already has nursing faculty, including former provost Carol Glod and assistant professor Traci Alberti. Additional nursing faculty and clinical instructors will be hired over the next several years to create a Department of Nursing within the School of Health Sciences. Sophisticated technology teaching laboratories and clinical spaces are being incorporated into the college’s master space planning.
“Nursing gives us exciting new opportunities for teaching, scholarly research, external partnerships, and ability to deliver our service mission,” McInnis said.