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First Students Participate in The University of Scranton and Geisinger RN to BSN Partnership Program

First Students Participate in The University of Scranton and Geisinger RN to BSN Partnership Program

This fall, The University of Scranton and Geisinger Health System began an expedited bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program for registered nurses working for Geisinger. 

“Geisinger approached us about starting a program,” said Sharon Hudacek, Ed.D., professor of nursing and director of the University’s RN to BSN and LPN to BSN programs. “Geisinger could have picked any University. We have an excellent nursing program, so that was part if it, of course, but this community partnership is huge and benefits all of us.” 

Geisinger, which owns eight hospitals in Pennsylvania, is working toward magnet status set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), an association that advocates for advancing higher education in nursing. 

Lecture and clinical classes through this program, taught by University of Scranton faculty, are offered on site at Geisinger- Community Medical Center (CMC) in Scranton on Tuesday nights. Currently, nurses at four other Geisinger campuses participate in the degree program via live video linking. Margarete Zalon, Ph.D., professor of nursing, teaches most often from CMC, in front of a screen linked to the other three hospital classrooms. 

The University already had an RN program, but Geisinger wanted something a little more convenient for working nurses. “In this program, they can come before or after their shift work,” said Hudacek. 

The University expected 12 students to participate in the program. Instead, 27 were admitted and there is a waiting list. The first cohort of students, who will learn together for the next four years, met recently with faculty on the University’s campus. 

“There’s an environmental biologist, a mortician, a chemist. Some have bachelor’s degrees, some have community-college degrees, and some are diploma nurses from CMC from 30-plus years ago,” said Hudacek. “These students come to us with diverse experiences and great intellect.” 

Karla Leiby, a registered nurse at Geisinger Danville, is a member of the program’s first class of students. She had been thinking about getting her BSN for a long time, but her work and home schedules made it difficult. “When this program came along, I knew almost instantly that it was a good fit,” she said. “I am able to participate with a group of peers while not having to commute, which provides me great flexibility with my work schedule.” 

Caption: The first cohort of RN to BSN students.  First row, from left, Margarete Zalon, Ph.D., professor of nursing; Jackie Roman of Kingston; Lora Urbas of Browndale; Sharon Hudacek, Ed.D., professor of nursing and director of the University’s RN to BSN and LPN to BSN programs; Heather Snyder of McClure; Leah Ann Cox of Taylor, and Catherine Lovecchio Ph.D., associate professor of nursing. Second row: Grace Gavigan of Wilkes-Barre; Lea Clark of Hudson; Lori Smith of Wilkes-Barre; Janel Moon of Bear Creek Township; and Christine Schoener of West Pittston. Third row: Michele Polney of Wilkes-Barre; Jess Herb of Wilkes-Barre; Jillian Meyer Taylor of Wyoming; and Sabrina Shander of Jessup. Fourth row: Kimberley Yatsko of Nanticoke; Lynn Fino of Mountain Top; Raphael Ferro of Hanover Township; and Carol Golosky of Taylor. Fifth row: Carole James Czepiel of Pocono Lake; Lora Slusher of Olyphant; Amie Engle of Berwick; Elizabeth Aciukewicz of Trucksville; JoAnn Blackwell of Mountain Top; Amanda Chapin of Watsontown and Debra Schreck of Scranton.

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