Siena Launches Dual Degree Nursing Program

Siena Launches Dual Degree Nursing Program

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Siena College and The Ellis Medicine Belanger School of Nursing in Schenectady have just received state approval to offer a new dual degree nursing major.

Students can begin enrolling in the program effective September 2017. Their four-year course of study will feature classwork at Siena, as well as classroom and clinical instruction at Belanger and the healthcare facilities of Ellis Medicine. Graduates will earn two degrees: an associate of science in nursing and a bachelor of science in nursing.

"We are excited to announce our dual degree nursing program with Belanger,” said Lisa M. Flack, D.N.S., director of nursing at Siena. “This unique collaboration between Siena and Belanger creates a seamless program built on the strengths of two excellent schools and will be an asset to our community as we strive to increase the number of bachelor's prepared nurses."

“The Ellis Medicine Belanger School of Nursing is thrilled to have Siena College as our partner as we deliver a dual degree nursing program. Our goal is to produce graduates who are prepared to meet the varying challenges of our current healthcare system,” said Marilyn Stapleton, Ph.D., director of the Belanger School of Nursing.

Margaret Madden, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs at Siena, said, “Nursing is far and away the top major searched for on the College’s website by prospective students, and we are pleased that we can now offer such an innovative program with Belanger to educate tomorrow’s nurses.”

“The partnership of Siena College and the Belanger School of Nursing is a milestone in our area for advancing the educational opportunities for nurses to achieve their bachelor of science in nursing degree,” said Suellyn Ellerbe, M.N., chief nursing officer for Ellis Medicine. “While Belanger has one of the most highly rated associate degree programs in the nation for registered nurses, we know the associate degree is not a terminal degree. We at Ellis Medicine are committed to assisting our registered nurses in continuing their education toward a bachelor of science in nursing. This program is one more way to do that.”

Prospective students will submit one application for a joint admissions decision. During their freshman year, enrolled students will take core courses in the liberal arts at Siena. During their sophomore and junior years, they will take classes at both Siena and Belanger and receive hands-on inpatient and outpatient clinical experience through Ellis Medicine.

At the end of their junior year, students will have earned an associate degree in nursing and will be qualified to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is required in New York to be a registered nurse. The NCLEX is issued by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Pass rates on the NCLEX for Belanger students are consistently above the national average, according to Stapleton.

For their senior year, students will be back on the Siena campus for their last year of classes to round out their professional education. If they pass the NCLEX and are licensed by the state, they will be able to work part time as nurses during their senior year.

“This program will offer the full four-year college experience that so many nursing students want, while giving them excellent classroom and clinical experience to prepare them for nursing careers,” said Dr. Flack. “They will be well-prepared to be holistic, general nurses.”

Stapleton added that the “state of the art health assessment and simulation labs and small personalized classes at Belanger will be the perfect complement to Siena’s campus experience.”

Upon graduation, students will be qualified to work in hospitals and other inpatient healthcare facilities, public health agencies, and outpatient facilities.

“Siena’s Franciscan tradition and caring nursing program will support the values and knowledge necessary to lead a compassionate life of service,” said Dr. Flack. “Coupled with the excellent skills in the science and art of nursing that our students will receive at Belanger, graduates of this program will be well prepared to work with patients and healthcare staff.”

Nationwide there is a push to have at least 80 percent of nurses educated at the baccalaureate level by 2020, according to the Center for Health Workforce Studies. Currently, the figure for New York state is roughly 50 percent, with higher figures in New York City and Long Island, and lower figures upstate. The majority of Capital Region nurses are associate degree level.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 1 million new RNs will be needed in the United States by 2022 due to demographic changes such as the aging Baby Boomer population.

This is the second health-related major that Siena has announced this spring: In March, the College received approval for a bachelor of arts in health studies, a unique program that features three tracks of study: health administration, health policy and health sciences. Current students and entering freshmen can enroll for health studies effective this fall.

In 2016, Siena announced the creation of the Baldwin Nursing Program — a bachelor of science degree in nursing completion program for RNs who hold an associate’s degree. This “RN to BS” degree program was designed for working nurses who want to continue their education while working full-time. This was the first nursing program offered at Siena.