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Four Kansas community colleges join University of Kansas in innovative nursing education program that will allow students to stay in communities

August 17, 2016

Nelda Godfrey

Nursing students across Kansas will now be able to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) without leaving their home communities. Four Kansas community colleges are joining with the University of Kansas School of Nursing in a groundbreaking nursing education model that allows students to simultaneously earn their Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) and BSN.

Accreditation approval was received this week for Butler, Hutchinson, Johnson County and Neosho County Community Colleges, which join Kansas City Kansas Community College as participants in this unique program with the University of Kansas School of Nursing, now known as the Partnership Model, this fall. In May, two students from Kansas City Kansas Community College became the first pioneers to complete essentially the pilot program in the model, and they are both now employed as registered nurses by The University of Kansas Hospital.  

Though national approval was just granted, interest in the program is so high that already this fall 43 students from the five community colleges will take part in the Partnership Model - originally known as the Kansas University-Community College Partnership program. Remarkably, more than 25 percent of the students enrolled in the Kansas City Kansas Community College nursing program have chosen this new route.  

"The partnership makes the transition much smoother for the student, while building relationships and capacity between the university and community college nursing efforts," said Nelda Godfrey, Ph.D., RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN, KU associate dean for innovative partnerships and practice.  "Ultimately, students can move easily through the pathway and achieve both degrees. It's a better, more efficient pipeline for educating nurses to meet growing workforce needs."  

How it works   

As part of the program, students from community colleges with accredited nursing programs to simultaneously earn their ADN from the local school where they are attending classes and their Bachelor of Science in Nursing from KU via online coursework.  

To be admitted into the Partnership Model program, students must meet specific criteria. First, they must have completed the required prerequisite coursework for admittance into the KU School of Nursing. They also must be accepted at into their community college nursing program. Then they can apply to KU School of Nursing.    

KU faculty members have worked with the community colleges to develop a curriculum that contains all the necessary elements required to sit for nursing licensure.  By taking advantage of resources that are already in place at the community colleges, the program is designed to be completed in four years (including summers), without having to leave the comfort and convenience of their community college setting.   Students pay tuition to the respective school through which a course is offered. Community college classes are taught on campus, and the KU portion of the coursework is done online.  

History of the model   

The origins of the Partnership Model can be traced to earlier this decade. In 2013, KU School of Nursing officials met with leaders from community colleges in the state with accredited nursing programs to discuss the combined curriculum, and by 2014 they had received approval of the pre-licensure partnership model from the Kansas Board of Nursing and the Kansas Board of Regents.  

The need nationally for more nurses with baccalaureate degrees in nursing has been spurred in large part by health care industry research, which shows patient outcomes are significantly improved when the person is cared for by a nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. As a result, many hospitals and other health care providers are requiring their nurses to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and national groups have encouraged an 80 percent BSN-prepared workforce by 2020.  

Adding to the need for more new nurses is the large number of baby boom generation nurses who will be retiring soon, combined with the aging general population. To answer this rapidly expanding need for more BSN graduates, KU has banded together with the state's community colleges to come up with Partnership Model program as a possible solution.   And because this model allows students to live in their home communities, it attracts a variety of participants that may be more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity or age.

"We are finding that by reaching out to our community college partners, we are increasing the diversity of our students and as a result the diversity of the nursing workforce," Godfrey said.    

Kansas City Kansas Community College was chosen to test the program, in part because it was closest of the schools geographically to KU Medical Center. The school also had just completed a new nursing curriculum and received its Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accreditation for a full eight years. Discussions continue with the aim of expanding the program to additional community colleges across Kansas, Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest. 

Related stories:   


First graduates:  

More about the program: or to enroll, see

Last modified: Jan 06, 2021