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Penn College adds master’s degree in nursing education

Pennsylvania College of Technology is set to begin accepting students into its newest master’s degree offering — a master of science in nursing for nursing education. The application for admission will open in January, with classes set to begin in Fall 2021.

Created for the working nurse, the curriculum for the MSN in nursing education is designed to be completed on a part-time basis within two years. All classes are conducted in an asynchronous, online environment.

Students will learn advanced clinical concepts such as pharmacology, pathophysiology and health assessment, while also developing the core competencies of a nurse educator, which include teaching strategies, curriculum development, and assessment and evaluation strategies. Coursework will be taught by nursing program faculty and administrators who hold doctoral degrees or are enrolled in a doctoral program.

The degree requires two practicum experiences, during which students work with a preceptor of their choice to complete 180 hours of hands-on learning experiences. During a clinical practicum, students will work in a learning laboratory, a simulation setting and a clinical setting. During a didactic practicum, students will apply their skills in a classroom setting at an educational facility of their choice.

“This degree opens more career opportunities for nurses who have a love for teaching others and want to mold new nurses,” said Valerie A. Myers, assistant dean of nursing. “Graduates with an MSN degree not only work in traditional education settings, such as colleges, universities and career and technical education programs, but also as nurse educators within hospital systems to ensure staff are educated on emerging research and best practices to improve patient care and outcomes.”

“Staff nurses often realize that they like to teach when they begin precepting new graduates and begin looking for degrees like this,” she added. “A big part of nursing is teaching, so this degree is a nice fit for them.”

Nursing is a high-demand occupation. The nation is experiencing a nursing shortage, due in part to baby boomers retiring from the profession and a shortage of qualified nursing educators to fill nursing faculty positions, which in turn affects the number of students who can be accepted into nursing programs.

In 2018, there were 554 nursing educator job postings within a two-hour radius of Penn College’s Williamsport campus, according to Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics software company that provides real-time data on job growth and labormmarket trends. At the same time, Pennsylvania had 2,257 nursing educator job postings, and there were 71,138 such job postings nationwide. The number of nursing educator positions is expected to have high growth over the next eight years.

Although not required, Penn College will seek accreditation candidacy for the MSN in nursing education through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing during the Fall 2020 semester, with the goal of receiving accreditation approval before the first cohort of students graduates in August 2023.

“Seeking accreditation through ACEN is very important to us because it ensures applicants and employers that our program meets or exceeds rigorous educational standards through a peer evaluation process,” said Sandra L. Richmond, dean of nursing and health sciences.

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