Evangelical Hospital to Pay Tuition, Fees for Advancing Nurses
Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg, is seeking to expand its pool of registered nurses by offering to pay tuition and fees for its licensed practical nurses who wish to earn an associate degree in nursing from Pennsylvania College of Technology.
At the hospital's Community Health Education Center, Penn College and Evangelical officials announced the partnership, which is intended to make it affordable and convenient for men and women who work as practical nurses to advance into RN positions.
"We wanted our LPNs to have a convenient educational opportunity to help them earn their RN degree, so we started working with Penn College to develop this partnership," said Paul Tarves, vice president of nursing at the hospital.
Evangelical will pay 100 percent of tuition and fees for employees selected to participate in the program. Most classes will be offered at the hospital site.
"National statistics reveal that, by the year 2010, there will be a need for approximately 1.6 million registered nurses, and we will only have about 650,000 on hand," said Betsy Snook, RN nursing consultant at Evangelical. "The severity of the shortage has been recognized by both Evangelical and Penn College, and we want to get ahead of the game to increase our RN staff," she added.
Evangelical President Michael Daniloff and Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour joined Tarves and Snook, as well as Penn College representatives, Pamela Starcher, director of nursing; and Sharon Auker, assistant professor of nursing; in making the June 27 announcement.
Dr. Gilmour said: "We are pleased to be part of this partnership with Evangelical Community Hospital. Our mission clearly supports lifelong, continuing education. Many Penn College students are men and women already in the world of work who have aspirations to advance into higher-level positions and to achieve greater levels of personal satisfaction in their professional lives. We welcome Evangelical employees who will join the student body and work toward their goals to become registered nurses."
Upon completion of the program, the employees will earn an associate degree from Penn College and will be eligible to sit for state board examinations to become registered nurses.
Evangelical currently employs 257 registered nurses and 58 licensed practical nurses.
Clarice Fox, a licensed practical nurse in the hospital's pediatrics unit, is enrolled in the Penn College program. She looks forward to the convenience of taking classes locally.
"It's wonderful that this program is going to be offered at the hospital," Fox said. "It will give the nurses with families and children the opportunity to spend more time with them because the travel time will be decreased."
The hospital is converting facilities to provide classroom and laboratory space for instruction at the site. While most courses will be offered at the hospital, students may need to travel to the Main Campus in Williamsport to complete lab instruction in some biology courses. A required introductory computer course will be offered via distance learning.
Penn College classes at Evangelical also will be opened to LPNs who are not hospital employees, according to the director of nursing.
"The mission of the Penn College nursing programs," according to Starcher, "is to facilitate career mobility within the nursing profession. This opportunity to work with Evangelical Community Hospital will help meet the needs of licensed practical nurses located in central Pennsylvania."
The project, which officials expect will be in place for approximately five years, has received approval of the State Board of Nursing.