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Nursing Program Comes To UIS

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The University of Illinois Springfield is branching out into the health field. Starting next fall, a new nursing program will start accepting students. About 30 are expected to enroll in the first year of the four-year program. Memorial Health System is donating $2 million, which includes scholarships and the hospital will provide facilities for teaching. 

UIS Chancellor, Susan Koch says she's often heard from students, parents, and others in the community that the university needs to provide medical training.

"It will help the Springfield campus grow and be even more relevant in the community. It will provide an opportunity for young people to earn a BSN in nursing and hopefully graduate degrees from one of the top nursing institutions in the nation," said Koch. Students in Springfield will be taught by faculty from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing. UIC's nursing program is over 60 years old and is already on four other regional campuses, including in Peoria, Urbana, Rockford and the Quad Cities.

Koch, says there's another reason this is an important addition:"State government is no longer the number one employer in our region. Healthcare is, and the demand for highly educated medical professionals in this community has never been greater."

Ed Curtis is Memorial's President and CEO. He says Memorial has a 6% vacancy for nurses, and that number is growing. He adds, "There are more people seeking services in healthcare ... Nursing is at the forefront." The nursing program starts in fall 2015. Those who are successful will receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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