Alverno College is planning to expand its nursing program to Arizona and, in August 2022, pending regulatory approvals, will open a second location dedicated to health care there, Alverno College President Andrea Lee, IHM, Ph.D., announced this week.

In partnership with Synergis Education, a premier education provider, Alverno will initially offer the college’s highly successful Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (DEMSN) program to students in Mesa, Arizona, which is 20 miles from Phoenix, the nation’s fifth-largest and fastest-growing city.

Designed for women and men who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, the DEMSN allows students to receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing with 18 months of full-time study. Students will be prepared to sit for the NCLEX to become a registered nurse at the conclusion of the program.

This initiative builds upon Alverno’s bold plans to expand its health care footprint and, in this case, to do so with Synergis Education, a partner that shares significant mission synchrony with the college. The launch is consistent with Alverno’s mission to offer adult and graduate programs to prepare students for lives of service and commitment. It also underpins Alverno’s strategic priority to capitalize on curricular strengths.

“Alverno has always sought to meet the needs of the time, to be nimble, and to ensure that those seeking educational access find open and welcoming doors,” said Lee. “We have tremendous regard for our partner in this endeavor, Synergis Education, and are thrilled to launch this program in a region where there is so much demand for skilled, compassionate health care providers.”

Synergis CEO Norm Allgood noted: “Synergis Education has been so impressed with the leadership at Alverno College. At every level, they are dedicated to innovation and understand the need to expand access to education in high-demand fields.”

Alverno’s program through the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and Health Professions will be distinctive in the region as the only Catholic, Franciscan DEMSN program, an advantage for students seeking a more personalized environment and curriculum and multiple starting points. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for registered nurses in Arizona will be triple the national average over at least the next six years.

Alverno’s DEMSN program launched on the Milwaukee campus in January 2020. Three cohorts of master’s-credentialed nurses will have graduated from the program in Milwaukee before the first cohort of Arizona students is admitted.

Alverno’s DEMSN program will have other distinct advantages, awarding graduates a BSN and an MSN, the only program in the area that will do so. Alverno is working with local hospital organizations in the Phoenix area to arrange a full rotation of clinical placements.

“When we consider our mission, our traditional areas of curricular strength and the escalating need in Arizona, we find this opportunity to be mission-centric and consistent with our strategic plan’s core strategies,” said Joseph Foy, Ph.D., Alverno’s vice president for Academic Affairs. “Most important, however, we are addressing the charge of our foundress, Mother Alexia, who said that ‘the needs of the time are the will of God for us.’”