Master’s in nursing now available to students with non-nursing degrees

Kim Thompson

Registered nurses who didn’t major in nursing as undergraduates can now be admitted into the College of Nursing Master’s Program. The Board of Trustees recently approved the change, nullifying the former policy that applicants must have a baccalaureate degree in nursing to even be considered.

Diana Biordi, assistant dean for research and graduate affairs, said the need to revise the requirements arose because highly qualified applicants were turned away because their baccalaureate degrees weren’t in nursing.

“I had a married couple that came in,” Biordi said. “She was a lawyer and a registered nurse, and he was a registered nurse with an undergraduate degree in health administration. He had worked at an intensive care unit at a major city hospital. Both of them had very high grade point averages, and I think as a lawyer she had never lost a case. So they were clearly accomplished people.”

But because of the former policy, Biordi said she had to turn them down. Biordi said changing the requirement to allow these types of accomplished people will benefit Kent State because eventually they’ll go on to represent Kent State in the nursing community.

Biordi said the College of Nursing may also benefit from the positive exposure it receives as one of the first in the area to consider such applicants.

“I think what this may do for some of the nearby schools is raise their antennae,” Biordi said. “I think we’re going to be copycatted pretty quickly.”

Another factor in the revision was the shortage of nurses around the nation. Because of the shortage, Susan Taft, director of the MSN-MBA/MPA dual-degree program, said the College of Nursing needs to give people access to a nursing education any way it can.

“The shortage is on all of the faculty’s minds, all of the time,” Taft said. “Part of the problem is there’s a severe nursing faculty shortage.”

Because of the lack of faculty, it’s difficult for students to get into nursing classes and the shortage crisis is compounded. Biordi said the consequences of the shortage may fall on current nurses.

“As fewer nurses are coming in through the pipeline, nurses may have to stay in the field a little longer,” Biordi said. “So we’re trying to find as many ways to bring nurses back into the leadership structure as possible.”

Biordi added that applicants without baccalaureate degrees in nursing would be considered “assuming all else to be equal and they fit the usual criteria.”

Applicants must be licensed registered nurses and must hold a baccalaureate degree, Taft said. But the degree can be in a field other than nursing.

Contact medicine reporter Kim Thompson at [email protected].