Community colleges consider nursing bachelor’s degree

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

The Illinois Council of Community College heard and looked over a proposal in March that would allow all community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree for nursing.

If the proposal were passed, Lake Land Community College would have to go through its own procedure to implement a nursing degree program.

Josh Bullock, the president of Lake Land College, attended the council meeting on March 14 in Naperville. He said should the state approve the proposal, the program would be most beneficial to community colleges where they have partnerships with other universities, such as the partnership between Eastern and Lake Land.

Renee Kidd-Marshall, the director of the nursing program at Eastern, could not be reached for comment.

Emily Murray, a freshman pre-nursing major at Eastern, said if there were a bachelor’s degree offered at Lake Land, it would affect Eastern’s current program.

“I think that nursing students would choose Lake Land over EIU because Eastern already has a bad reputation with their nursing program, and their limited options for nursing pre-requisites and professors,” Murray said. “Lake Land is also a community college that is easier to transfer out of for nursing school and has cheaper tuition than Eastern does.”

Bullock said the proposal does not mean Lake Land will be competing with other universities for students seeking a nursing degree, including Eastern.

“Anytime we make a new program here at Lake Land, we want to extend it to Eastern,” Bullock said. “Our focus here is our partnership with Eastern.”

Murray said she believes if there was another nursing degree program other than the one available at Eastern, it would cause some competition between both institutions for prospective nursing students.

“It would make the program less expensive and also more beneficial for nursing students at Eastern,” Murray said.

Bullock also said even if the proposal gets approval, it would take some time before the program gets started.

“Even if the proposal gets state approval, each local college would still have to develop it and get it approved by their boards of trustees,” Bullock said.

Bullock said the proposal would have to go through different steps before it can be put into motion.

In Lake Land’s case, the proposal would have to go through the Board of Trustees, the Illinois Council of Community College, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Some of the requirements for Eastern’s current nursing program include two letters of reference, a registered nursing license from the student’s current resident state, a certified background check, and professional liability insurance.

Illinois state laws prohibit community colleges from offering bachelor’s degree to their students. However, back in 2009, Harper College managed to successfully pass a bachelor’s degree proposal in the Illinois House of Representatives, though it never made it to the Illinois Senate because of opposition from both public and private institutions and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The goal of the proposal is to help meet the need for more health care workers, and increase the number by at least 22 percent.

Last week, for the first time, both Eastern’s and Lake Land’s boards of trustees came to together to discuss their current partnerships and how the two institution can go about carrying on the partnership in the future.

Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].