Newswise — Rush University College of Nursing rose to the No. 1 spot among 183 schools eligible for the graduate nursing programs category in U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Online Programs list released today.

“We could not be prouder to be at the top of a list of so many esteemed nursing schools,” said Barbara Swanson, PhD, RN, FAAN, interim dean of the College of Nursing. “It speaks volumes about the quality of the faculty and staff at Rush who are so committed to preparing superb practitioners and leaders in nursing, regardless of student location.”

The College of Nursing’s top spot is the culmination of a steady climb up the list for the school since it ranked No. 13 in 2015, and this marks the second straight year it has ranked in the top five (No. 4 in 2019).

In addition, the College of Nursing is first on the 2020 list of Best Online Nursing Programs for Veterans and in the top three in four of the new online specialty rankings introduced by U.S. News this year:

  • Nurse Practitioner — Psychiatric Mental Health, Across the Lifespan (No. 1)
  • Nurse Practitioner — Pediatric, Primary Care (No. 2)
  • Nursing Administration/Leadership (No. 3)

Addressing a nursing shortage

Distance learning plays a key role in helping to solve the U.S.’s nursing shortage. Through 2026, 203,700 new nurses are needed each year to fill newly created positions and replace retiring nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Advanced practice nurses, functioning in both inpatient and outpatient settings, can increase accessibility to high quality and cost-effective care. This is particularly true for underserved rural and urban populations.

“Providing online education access to nursing students is crucial as the nursing shortage continues to grow,” Swanson said. “This is especially important in addressing the health care crisis and the number of people in desperate need of care in rural areas of the country.”

High marks

The College of Nursing ranked first nationwide in the Faculty Credentials and Training part of U.S. News’ assessment. That category accounts for 20% of the score U.S. News uses to rank online programs. College of Nursing online students have access to the same clinical experts who advise and teach on-campus students.

The remaining 80% of U.S. News’ online program rankings are calculated based on the following categories:

  • Engagement (30%): Aspiring advanced practice nurses can readily collaborate with fellow students in their classes and clinical settings. Instructors are not only accessible and responsive, but they are also tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Expert Opinion (20%): A survey of high-ranking academic officials in nursing helps account for intangible factors affecting program quality that statistics do not capture. Also, employers may hold in high regard degrees from programs that academics respect.
  • Services and Technologies (20 percent): Programs that incorporate diverse online learning technologies allow greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance. Outside of classes, strong support structures provide learning assistance, career guidance and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.
  • Student Excellence (10%): Student bodies entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework. Furthermore, online degrees that schools award judiciously will have greater legitimacy in the job market.

Nursing programs are offered from the master’s through the doctoral (DNP and PhD) levels. The following are the college’s degree options available online:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program
  • Nursing Leadership for RNs: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs
  • Advanced Public Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Psychiatric -Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Transformative Leadership: Population Health
  • Transformative leadership: Systems
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing Science
  • BSN-PhD
  • Master’s-PhD

Online programs build on proud history

The College of Nursing has a national reputation for excellence, consistently ranking among the top nursing schools in the nation. Among the nation’s 552 nursing colleges with graduate programs, Rush ranks in the top 1% overall for Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and top 3% for Master of Science in Nursing programs in the 2020 edition of U.S. News’ America’s Best Graduate Schools survey.

Four programs rank among the top two in the nation:

  • Clinical Nurse Leader, MSN: No. 1
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: No. 1
  • Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: No. 2
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice: No. 2

The following Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are also ranked in the top 10:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner: No. 4
  • Nursing Anesthesia (No. 4; ranked in 2017)
  • Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (Primary Care): No. 5
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: No. 5
  • Nursing Administration: No. 7

The College of Nursing’s heritage dates back to 1885, when its first antecedent, the St. Luke’s Hospital Training School of Nursing, opened to offer diploma education to nurses. Today, well over 7,000 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral students have graduated from the College of Nursing.