Valparaiso University BSN program recognized in top 17% of nursing programs in the country

Valparaiso University BSN program recognized in top 17% of nursing programs in the country
By: Contributor, Lauren Grasham Last Updated: April 18, 2022

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Valparaiso University (VU) has been ranked in the top 17% of nursing programs in the country by “U.S. News and World Report.” 

The BSN program has been in existence for over 50 years, and kept a standard of excellence in education that goes beyond the typical classroom setting. The program is influenced by the phenomenal faculty who teach, and everything happening in the world, the country, and the Profession of Nursing. 

“Not only do we prepare nurses to practice, we prepare nurses for service, research, leadership, advocacy, and education,” said Dean and Professor of Nursing of the Valparaiso University College of Nursing and Health Professions Dr. Karen Allen. “Valparaiso is blessed to be in the company of other top nursing schools in the area.”

Students enrolled in the BSN program have many opportunities for hands-on learning experiences, such as great clinical and practicum experiences in preparation for nursing practice; engaging in service locally, nationally and internationally; attending professional conferences under the leadership of faculty presenting research; interacting closely with their professors for mentorship and direction in research groups, and community advocacy; and more.

Much of the program’s success is made possible through close relationships with community partnerships with hospitals, schools, clinics, as well as the other colleges at the University.In addition to nursing courses, students complete general education classes to finish their degree, and Allen is confident that this aspect leads to higher-quality education.

“We are a program that values the integration of general education learning along with the learning of the professional aspects because we want to shape them and prepare the whole person as a contributor to society in all ways,” Allen said. “We prepare them in the profession to be critical thinkers, and as critical thinkers they're able to assess what is happening in the world and then to contribute broadly, beyond the preparation of nurses.”

To get that experience of the working world after graduation, it’s crucial to become comfortable working with communities on a broader scale, and students were able to do just that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“When the pandemic occurred, we stopped sending students to clinical because we didn't know what was happening,” Allen said. “But New York had a need, and when some of our students in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs heard that New York was really struggling to get providers, they found their way to New York to provide care in the midst of the pandemic. Still others worked together to make masks when they initially were scarce to find.” 

While Allen said she was excited to learn about the ranking, and felt it was a blessing, when asked about seeking a higher ranking, she stated that is not their main focus. Instead, Allen’s focus is set on making sure students get quality education and are equipped for providing amazing, trustworthy, and fantastic, real-life care in the healthcare world. Which is evidenced by the number of unsolicited patient testimonies of moving experiences partnering hospitals and healthcare agencies send to me and others at the University, regarding our students.

The numbers that matter to her are the number of patients from all walks of life, including all races, sexes, ages, and more, who have access to better health care thanks to the education their nurses received while at VU. The numbers that matter are decreases in health disparities amongst people of color.

“We’ve already begun to implement diversity and inclusion into our work by having mannequins of different cultural groups and racial groups as well as age groups so students will learn from those perspectives,” Allen said. “If you're looking at, for example, an illness in the white patients and you expect them to be pale, they give you a sign that something is going on. But what does paleness look like in black patients? How can we tell that the same symptom is occurring with them?”

Also, how do we help students from underrepresented groups be successful in our program? For example, we are excited about increasing the numbers of male students that we have; increasing the numbers of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented groups of students. In addressing some of these goals, we focus our future on continuing to enhance our program of excellence in nursing, and hopefully the rankings will follow.”  

In addition to the traditional BSN nursing program, VU also offers other programs within the College of Nursing and Health Professions for those at various points in their academic career. Their RN to BSN program, recently enhanced and strengthened, allows students to obtain their nursing license through a 16-month, 100% online program, at the least expensive in the region. 

They also have an accelerated BSN degree program for students who have degrees in other programs or have obtained many credits from other colleges but have yet to get their degree. This is a 15-month program that moves many persons to being a professional nurse, earning a very high salary quickly. Other programs at the College include, Health Science, Health Care Leadership, Public Health. At the graduate level, VU offers the MS in Nursing Education, the FNP focused Doctor of Nursing Practice, the Physician Assistant program, the MPH, the MHA, and the Post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctoral degree. 

Allen welcomes anyone with questions about the nursing or other programs at Valparaiso University to contact her directly by email at Prospective students are also encouraged to visit the College of Nursing and Health Profession’s website for more information here.