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High-demand degree

Nursing master’s program aimed at those new to the field

Suburban Life Magazine

This fall, Elmhurst College will host the first session of its Nursing Master’s Entry program.

Designed specifically for students with baccalaureate degrees outside of nursing who want to transition into the field, the program prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam and the clinical nurse leader certification exam.

“In this economy, nursing is still a career that’s in demand,” says Julie Hoff, associate professor and director of the Deicke Center for Nursing Education at Elmhurst College, adding that beyond 2020, it is expected there will be a shortage of nurses. “We have to be thinking about the future.”

The nursing master’s entry program at Elmhurst is the only program of its kind in the suburbs of Chicago and is designed specifically for students with baccalaureate degrees outside of nursing who want to transition into the field.

“What we’re doing… We’re leveraging someone’s baccalaureate education and pushing them forward,” Hoff says.

The first year of study focuses on pre-nursing licensure courses, and during the second year, student’s transition into the clinical nurse leader role. The program heavily emphasizes the use of collaboration and teamwork in a healthcare setting.

The nursing master’s entry program is a full-time program, completed in two years. It is conducted in a hybrid format consisting of on-campus and online learning, with simulation laboratory time and clinical time.

Hoff says the students in the program will tend to be a different type of student than a traditional student, as most will have already attained undergraduate degrees in other fields and likely spent at least a couple of years in the workforce. She says demand for the program has been high.

The first class of the program will include 16 students and the goal is to increase it to 24 students for the second class of the program.

She says the unique program has required the department to create a whole new curriculum and courses as it is teaching everything from novice clinical skills to advanced leadership skills. Since these students already have experience in other fields and higher education, they are a different type of student.

“We hope these are the future leaders in nursing,” Hoff says. “… It’s really an exciting time for nursing. It is the largest healthcare workforce in the country.”

For more information on the Nursing Master’s Entry program, visit

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