Newswise — The University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois Springfield are announcing the creation of a joint undergraduate nursing curriculum that, for the first time, will guarantee a spot for incoming freshmen in UIC’s highly ranked nursing program.

The agreement, which will begin in the fall of 2020, will allow a student who is interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to apply to the Springfield campus, or UIS, as a freshman. If accepted, the student would be guaranteed admission to the UIC College of Nursing BSN program on the Springfield regional campus when they achieve junior-level standing.

Under the initiative, dubbed UIS-UIC Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions, or UIS-UIC GPPA, first-time freshmen will have a guaranteed place in the UIC College of Nursing BSN program. The initiative will have similar requirements as UIC’s Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions (GPPA) program, which calls for more rigorous requirements for admission to specialized career pathways.

“It’s an opportunity for very competitive students to have this pathway guaranteed for them,” said Kevin Browne, vice provost for academic and enrollment services at UIC. “We guarantee admission to the BSN degree, which is a major threshold to enter the health care industry.”

If students are not accepted into the program as freshmen they still could apply to UIC’s BSN program as a junior or senior without the guaranteed acceptance.

“We’re elated to provide talented freshmen the security of knowing they have a spot in our highly-ranked program,” UIC College of Nursing Dean Terri Weaver said. “I hope that will make the UIS-UIC program the first choice of every high school senior in central and southern Illinois who wants to become a nurse.”

Since 2015 the UIC College of Nursing has had a home on the UIS campus, where students attend classes and receive hands-on experience working in medical facilities such as Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. Accepted students to the UIS-UIC Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions initiative, would be UIS students for the first two years and would transition to be UIC students for the last two years of their undergraduate studies while remaining on the UIS campus.

UIS interim chancellor Karen Whitney, who began July 1, said the partnership continues the great work being done by the universities.

“The Nursing program at UIS continues to be a valuable asset to the Central Illinois region,” Whitney said. “Our successful partnership with UIC with a guaranteed pathway for incoming freshmen encourages more students to pursue their degree at UIS, providing more highly qualified BSN graduates to meet the critical health-care needs in our community.”

The effort is designed to help increase the number of students in the program, said Cynthia Reese, director of the Springfield regional campus of the UIC College of Nursing. The hope also is to meet the need for more nurses.

“We’re a new program; we just graduated our third class this spring and we are still growing. We want to grow to make more of an impact on the health care of the residents of central Illinois,” Reese said. “There is a critical need for nurses in central Illinois, and we are trying to fill this gap.”

For more information please go to the UIS-UIC nursing webpage.