Local colleges partner to create accelerated nursing program

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- UW-Stevens Point is partnering with three regional technical colleges to keep nurses in Central Wisconsin. It's a partnership that makes it easier for nurses to graduate faster.

Wednesday, leaders from UWSP, Northcentral Technical College, Mid-State Technical College, and Nicolet College met to outline their plan--called "1+2+1"--to retain nurses in the region. Here's how it works:

A student can get complete their general education credits at UWSP in their first year. They can then transfer to a technical college like NTC to get their associate's degree. Simultaneously, a student can start earning their UWSP Bachelor of Science in the nursing program.

In their final academic year, the student would complete their bachelor's degree program at UWSP.

"It really gives us the opportunity to keep the talent locally and keep our hospitals and our nursing homes and other health care facilities with the nurses that we need--for the future, for the health care of our communities," said Lori Weyers, president of NTC.

Rebecca Sommer, with UWSP's School of Health Care Professions, said, "Nurses are in great demand in central and northern Wisconsin, so our regional health care providers tell us that they have hundreds of job openings for nurses right now."

Sommer adds that more health care providers are advocating for prospective nurses to have both an associates and bachelor's degree. She also says the demand for nurses is so high because many nurses are retiring, and that with the baby boomer population continuing to age, more health care is needed.