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Via Christi, Wichita State partner on new nursing program

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, August 2, 2012, at 9:58 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, August 19, 2012, at 2:30 p.m.

Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita wants nurses with master’s degrees, and it’s collaborating with Wichita State University to accomplish that goal.

WSU announced Thursday that it will offer a Master of Science in Nursing with concentration in leadership and administration beginning this fall.

Betty Smith-Campbell, chairwoman of WSU’s nursing school, said she and other school officials had been talking about adding the program for some time. But it was largely a conversation until Via Christi officials approached her about it.

“I’m very impressed with my faculty and staff of the (health professions) college,” she said. “We were thinking about doing this, but not so quickly. We really did this in a semester, which is rather unusual to get through academia so quickly.” Approval by the Kansas Board of Regents to add the program came in June, Smith-Campbell said.

The nursing school has also added a master’s in nursing education, she said.

Linda Goodwin, chief nursing officer for Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita, said Via Christi is seeking to increase its ranks of nurses with graduate degrees — as well as nurses with bachelor’s degrees — to become a Magnet Recognition Program. The program recognizes health care organizations for quality patient care and innovations in professional nursing practice. More than half of nursing leaders at organizations with such recognition have graduate degrees. And Goodwin said some research suggests there are better outcomes for patients who have been treated by nurses with advanced education.

Via Christi also has nurse leaders who simply want to advance their education. And it and its parent organization, Via Christi Health, are pursing other initiatives to improve the quality of patient care and patient outcomes.

“Through our collaboration with Wichita State they put together a very wonderful master’s program that will allow our nursing leaders to gain additional skills,” Goodwin said.

Nurses who choose to pursue the new master’s program will be eligible for tuition reimbursement from Via Christi, a benefit provided to all its employees.

Smith-Campbell said she wouldn’t be surprised if the first class of the program’s graduates are mostly Via Christ nurses.

“There is probably a good 15 to 20 (Via Christi nurses) who are interested in the program,” she said.

The program is open for enrollment now, Smith-Campbell said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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