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BAT fast tracks record number of graduates

Renee Nickerson and 25 fellow students made Decker School of Nursing history this summer when they gathered for a ceremony honoring the school’s largest-ever Baccalaureate Accelerated Track (BAT) graduating class.

“It’s great to be at this point in time,” said Nickerson in her student address. “We couldn’t be more excited. We all have different goals to pursue and have the opportunity to do great things.”

The BAT program allows students with a baccalaureate or higher degree in another field to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing after completion of an intensive 11-month course of study. Generally, the studies can take two years to complete.

“There is a shortage of nurses gripping our country,” said Decker Dean Sarah Gueldner. “The BAT program is the quickest way we know to prepare students to help meet the nursing crisis.”

National projections suggest that within the next few years, the nursing shortage will increase due to the aging of the nursing work force, the needs of a growing and aging population and decreasing enrollments in nursing programs. Adding to the problem is a shortage of nurses prepared at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels to teach nursing.

“In New York state, this problem has been compounded by the recent closures of four baccalaureate nursing programs, which makes our efforts at BU even more important,” said Dianne Miner, associate dean of Decker’s undergraduate programs. “Historically, graduates from our program enter the practice environment immediately after graduation, with many focusing on the more demanding areas of nursing, such as critical care and birthing centers. Our students hit the ground running and are highly sought after.”

The BAT program has been offered since 1989 and, in recent years, has experienced both increasing applications and larger graduating classes. In 2002 there were 18 graduates and this year’s program yielded a record-breaking 26 graduates. Forty-seven students are enrolled for fall 2003.

A recently awarded three-year $1,044,711 grant from the Nursing Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help meet the increased interest. The grant will expand the capacity of the undergraduate BAT program to accommodate 75 additional students over the next three years by enhancing recruitment activities, in particular those geared toward increasing the number of minority, disadvantaged and rural students.

“We will be reconfiguring the current BAT curriculum, allowing for a better understanding of nursing science and research methodology,” said Miner. “A Web-based course will be added to serve non-traditional students and community health, as well as a long-term care practicum. These elements build upon our core competencies, creating even more opportunities for our nursing students to acquire the skills they need.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08