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Accelerated nursing program to launch at ASU's Lake Havasu campus

The accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing will begin in the fall and accept about 30 students a year

Edson Lake Havasu

The Health North building on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is pictured on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation recently received approval from the Arizona Board of Nursing to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing at ASU@Lake Havasu. 

An accelerated nursing program is coming to ASU@Lake Havasu, with hopes of bringing additional certified health care professionals to Arizona's rural counties following its approval in April by the Arizona Board of Nursing. 

In the Fall 2021 semester, the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation will offer a 12-month program for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at its Lake Havasu campus. The program will accept about 30 applicants each year, and students who graduate with the BSN will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination to become registered nurses.

The campus's location, which is near the California-Arizona border in Mohave County and near La Paz County, allows students who graduate to see pathways to serve those communities, giving back to more rural areas that have suffered health professional shortages during the height of the pandemic.

With populations of just over 200,000 and 20,000 respectively, Mohave County and La Paz County are among the areas that enlisted nurses from other cities to provide care during the pandemic's peak, Carla Harcleroad, the executive director of Lake Havasu City programs, said in an email. 

Although Lake Havasu itself is not a rural area, ASU aims to help decrease the average population age of Mohave County and provide more health care resources across county lines through encouraging young nursing students to practice in the area, she said. 

"From a higher education standpoint, you need to bring people into programs that they're really excited to be in where we need more seats," Harcleroad said. "We need more room for people to be in nursing programs, and then hopefully through their clinical experiences, they stay."

Although nurses from outside of the community can work anywhere, having local nurses can have a positive impact on health care in those counties. 

Nurses trained in rural communities tend to stay where they received their education, said Amanda Goodman, the senior communications specialist for Edson College. "They're from the community, and they're providing really great care."

Mohave Community College, which has a campus in Lake Havasu, has its own nursing program, but it's full, so ASU is "working together with them to help address the need in the Lake Havasu community," said Salina Bednarek, director of prelicensure nursing programs for the Edson College. 

The students in the accelerated nursing program will get the same coursework as the nursing students in the accelerated program at the Downtown Phoenix campus, which also runs for 12 months but begins in the spring semester, Bednarek said. 

The new program will include both virtual and immersion lab experiences, where the students will travel to Phoenix to the Health Futures Center, a collaborative center between Mayo Clinic and ASU. 

Bednarek expressed confidence in educating nurses remotely having implemented remote learning for the past three semesters.

"We've identified great ways to educate nurses remotely, so we're taking that learned information and expanding it to other areas of our communities," Bednarek said.

Harcleroad said tuition rates for the program will reflect Lake Havasu's, which are significantly lower than ASU's other campuses and may become a selling point. 

ASU@Lake Havasu's base tuition for undergraduate students for the 2021-22 school year is projected at $6,426 for Arizona residents, over $4,000 less than all of the University's four major campuses. 

The difference is even greater for non-resident undergraduate students, with ASU@Lake Havasu's base tuition projected to be $10,368 compared to $28,800 at the four major campuses.

Edson College is looking forward to seeing the program grow with the needs of the students, Harcleroad said. "As we learn from students in the first cohort we'll learn what works really well and what they might like to see different going forward."

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