Western Kentucky University is phasing out its associate of science in nursing program and increasing the number of students in the Bachelor of Science in nursing program.

"We'll phase out the two-year program over the next three years," said Neale Chumbler, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, which contains the School of Nursing. "There will be community colleges that have ASN programs."

The field of nursing is moving more toward bachelor's degrees, Chumbler said.

"A lot of hospitals and facilities are expecting a bachelor's degree of nursing. They're in high demand," he said. "It correlates with better quality of health care in hospital communities."

Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College said the college is prepared for an increased need for associate degrees.

"With their closure we're going to seek to expand our programs here so to be able to capture the population here because it's still in demand," said SKYCTC Provost Maggie Shelton. "We heard it was happening and thought how to immediately step in."

Students can start at SKYCTC and go a year and a summer to get a BSN at WKU, Shelton said.

"We have a wonderful partnership with Western," she said. "The students in 10 counties here are lucky to have a good partnership."

Nurse placement at SKYCTC is "excellent," Shelton said.

"They start recruiting them before they finish. Our passing rates are about 100 percent on the licensure," she said. "We have exceptional students. We're very blessed."

There's a shortage of nurses, and the ones who are coming need to have a bachelor's degree, Chumbler said.

"What we're trying to do here is increase the numbers who have a bachelor's degree," he said. "We can only have 80 in the bachelor's program each semester, but we're trying to increase those numbers to meet market demand. We're increasing enrollment by accepting up to 60 additional qualified students per semester."

There are 496 students currently enrolled in the pre-BSN program, Chumbler said.

"We have people trying to get into the bachelor's degree program," he said. "They are not necessarily in the ASN program."

Getting into the nursing program isn't easy, Chumbler said.

"We look at multiple factors," he said. "It's very competitive to get in the bachelor's degree program."

According to a news release, the last class of traditional ASN students will be admitted into the program in January 2017. These students will progress through the program and complete their degrees in May 2019. Students still seeking entry into the WKU ASN program after the last admission cycle can transition to either the WKU BSN program or seek entry into one of the remaining ASN programs in Kentucky. The WKU LPN to ASN online program, a novel program that is funded by the WKU Division of Learning and Outreach, will remain open while the College of Health and Human Services assesses the enrollment potential of this online program.

— Follow features reporter Alyssa Harvey on Twitter at twitter.com/bgdnfeatures or visit bgdailynews.com.

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