CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)– Westfield State University (WSU) and Holyoke Community College (HCC) are planning a partnership that will expand educational opportunities for nursing students.

On Monday, May 15, representatives from both schools will have a signing ceremony to commemorate the new program, the first of its kind in the state.

Students will be able to earn both an associate’s (ASN) and a baccalaureate degree (BSN) in nursing simultaneously by combining the curricula of both programs. The effort is a way to address the shortage of qualified nurses in the state by increasing the number of nursing students and providing a way to earn their degree faster.

“The concurrent ADN to BSN pathway is an innovative approach to nursing education. It enables students to earn their ADN while simultaneously completing coursework that counts towards their BSN. This integration of education allows for a more efficient and streamlined approach to nursing education that is advantageous to some students,” said WSU Executive Director of Nursing Jessica Holden, DNP, RN, NPD-BC.

 “We’re excited. Working with Westfield State on this new program is huge,” said HCC Director of Nursing Teresa Beaudry, MSN, RN. “We had to meet with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing, who had to approve it, and they’re equally as excited as we are to create another pathway for nurses to advance in their education and a different way for those students who might not be able to get into a bachelor’s of nursing program.”

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic many health care professionals, including nurses, have retired or left the profession, leaving a large need for trained and licensed nurses especially in hospitals and long term care facilities.