Nursing at Immaculata

Nursing Division History

Nursing at Immaculata

In January 1983, Elizabeth F. Wagoner, Ed.D., R.N., joined the faculty at Immaculata to begin developing a baccalaureate completion program for registered nurses (R.N. to B.S.N.). Together with a coordination council, comprised of representatives from the Chester County Hospital School of Nursing and the Brandywine School of Nursing, Dr. Wagoner developed an upper-division program of study for registered nurses. The program was officially approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in May, 1984. Immaculata College admitted its first class of R.N. students in a mostly part-time evening program in fall of 1984, which was designed to provide educational mobility for graduates of hospital and associate degree nursing programs. The new program supported the nursing profession, which has long promoted the B.S. degree as the minimum preparation for professional practice.

The nursing program then and now is a tangible expression of the mission and goals of the University and its central concern of a Christian worldview, service to others, and a commitment to truth, service, justice and peace. 

In response to student requests and nursing alumni feedback, the decision was made to offer the R.N. to B.S.N. program in an accelerated format. An accelerated nursing program was developed in February 1998. The accelerated delivery mode supports and enhances adult learning, and is based on learning models which include concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. The accelerated R.N. to B.S.N. program emphasizes the development of proficiency and skills, the ability to analyze, conceptualize, communicate and solve problems.

The accelerated format became hugely successful and presently graduates among the highest number of baccalaureate prepared nurses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The R.N. to B.S.N. program continued to grow over the years, and it is now delivered at 30 off-site locations throughout the greater Philadelphia area, surrounding counties, and the states of Delaware and Maryland. Currently, over 1,000 R.N. students are completing their B.S.N. through Immaculata University. Magnet status recognition or re-designation, which recognizes excellence in nursing care, is a priority for many health care institutions where the program is offered. The education of registered nurses is critical to meeting this standard of excellence.

In 2003, the then-department of nursing initiated a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) program. The M.S.N. program builds on baccalaureate nursing education and prepares nurses for leadership roles in nursing education and nursing administration. In December 2006, six students became the first graduates of the M.S.N. program, in the Nurse Educator track. Currently, there are 100+ students at four sites. The M.S.N. program received initial accreditation from CCNE in 2006. A number of the M.S.N. graduates have obtained full-time leadership and teaching positions in area institutions.

In 2008 Immaculata and Brandywine School of Nursing in Coatesville, Pennsylvania entered into a joint venture to close the diploma nursing program at Brandywine Hospital School of Nursing and open a generic baccalaureate nursing program offered by Immaculata University. Given the long partnership between Immaculata University and the Brandywine School of Nursing in providing quality nursing education in Chester County and the tri-state area, and given the increasing need for bachelor-prepared nurses identified in the profession, this next step seemed appropriate and the timing right to provide a generic baccalaureate nursing program in a university setting.

Initial approval from the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and the Pennsylvania Department of Education was granted in spring 2009, and recruiting for the new B.S.N. program began. The first students for the pre-licensure B.S.N. program began in the fall of 2009, and the first traditional nursing course started in January of 2010. 

In January 2010, the Department of Nursing was elevated to a Division of Nursing by the Executive Administration of the University in recognition of the complexity and number of programs administered and students served.