Siena Launches New Nursing Program For RNs Seeking Bachelor’s Degree

Siena Launches New Nursing Program For RNs Seeking Bachelor’s Degree

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The growing demand for registered nurses to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing often creates a scheduling nightmare for RNs who return to school for their degree while continuing to work full-time.

Siena College announced today that it is addressing that challenge with the creation of the new Baldwin Nursing Program — a bachelor of science degree in nursing completion program for RNs who hold an associate’s degree.

In establishing its first-ever nursing program, Siena has taken the innovative approach of scheduling on-campus classes on Wednesdays, providing nurses and employers with a predictable schedule that makes it easier for nurses to advance their education while continuing to work. Approximately two-thirds of the program requirements will be completed on-campus, and one-third through online platforms.

The two-year program will begin this fall, having recently received approvals from the state Education Department and Board of Regents. The program will accept just 16 students for the first semester, but is expected to expand quickly from there.

A “fast-track” 16-month program is also available for RNs who already have a bachelor’s degree, but in a discipline other than nursing.

In addition to classwork, the program includes a clinical practice segment that provides students with in-the-field experiences. Students will be able to perform their clinical work at hospitals, community and public health settings, or other medical facilities throughout the region, providing a benefit to both the student and the community.

“Hospitals are urging, and in some cases requiring, their RNs with associate’s degrees to get their bachelor of science in nursing, and are providing substantial tuition reimbursement for staff nurses to further their studies,” said Baldwin Nursing Program Director Lisa Flack, DNS, MS, RN. “Numerous research studies have shown hospitals and patients benefit from nurses with a bachelor’s degree, and many RNs want to expand their education, but have struggled to find a schedule that works for them and their employer.”

The Baldwin Nursing Program was created thanks to a gift from Thomas '81 and Laurie '80 Baldwin of Albany. Both are graduates of Siena College, and Thomas Baldwin Jr. serves on Siena’s Board of Trustees. The Baldwins are very familiar with nursing, as both Tom’s and Laurie’s mothers, Shirley Kowalczyk, RN and Marilyn Baldwin, RN, were nurses, and their daughter and daughter-in-law are currently nurses.

“Nurses really are the heartbeat of our healthcare system,” Laurie Baldwin said. “They are the people who are at the bedside, hour after hour, caring for patients and advocating for their needs. For them to further their education not only benefits the nurse, but the patients as well, and so we are extremely pleased to support this new program.”

Thomas Baldwin said, “Finding innovative ways to provide a first-class education that is accessible for students at all stages of their lives is a hallmark of Siena College, and the once-a-week schedule that has been created for working RNs is a perfect example.”

The two-year RN to BS in Nursing program will include a full curriculum of on-campus classes each Wednesday, including both traditional bachelor’s degree courses and advanced nursing classes, which will be held in a newly created health assessment lab/classroom in the Roger Bacon Hall science building. The online portion of the program will provide working nurses with further scheduling flexibility due to the less rigid time requirements of online course work.

Siena College President Brother F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D., said the college’s expansion into nursing education fits perfectly with the values of the Franciscan college, and offers Siena a unique opportunity to educate and form those who will be able to live those values in the 21st century.

“Nursing is a special calling that involves compassion and a sense of service with individuals at very vulnerable moments in their lives,” Brother Ed said. “They are moments when those who have been educated and formed in the Franciscan tradition are most able to embody Franciscan ideas.”

“There is a growing demand for nurses with bachelor’s degrees, and we are pleased to see Siena College step forward to provide this venue for nurses to further their studies and meet the needs of an increasingly complex world of health care,” said New York State Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, M.D.

Deborah Elliott, MBA, BSN, RN, a respected nursing advocate and Executive Director of the Center for Nursing at the Foundation of New York State Nurses Inc., praised Siena for an innovative approach to helping RNs earn a Bachelor in Nursing degree. “Nurses are incredibly hard-working, dedicated professionals, and they deserve a program like this that helps them balance their full-time jobs with a clear path forward to a higher degree. That benefits the individual nurse, and in turn, benefits patients.”

To learn more about the Baldwin Nursing Program, please visit:

More photos from the Nursing Program Announcement event on Flickr.

Media Coverage of the Event:

Albany Business Review (must be a subscriber to view full story)