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Unmatched Educational Opportunity at Idaho State University’s College of Nursing

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The College of Nursing (CON) at Idaho State University (ISU) is a destination site for nursing education. In the mid-1980’s, ISU was designated by the State Board of Education as Idaho’s leader for health professions education. Transitioning from a School of Nursing to the College of Nursing in 2018, students in both undergraduate and graduate level nursing programs at ISU are educated by dedicated and experienced faculty using state-of-the-art technology. Classroom instruction takes place on both the Pocatello and Meridian campuses, with graduate programs in the College delivered primarily online.  

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Nursing Education and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing are just two of the graduate level degree programs offered in the CON at ISU. A master’s in nursing education provides a wide range of career opportunities. Nurses with a master’s degree are prepared for employment in an academic or clinical setting across the healthcare landscape. Many facilities, like community colleges require professors to have a minimum of a master’s degree in order to be in an educator role.  The Master of Science in Nursing at ISU helps students expand their knowledge and expertise further into the academic side of nursing, while also providing the opportunity to be successful in taking on leadership roles within a clinical organization focused on improving patient safety, quality, and improved outcomes. There are many healthcare facilities that need nurses with education, leadership skills and abilities to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative ways to improve patient care. Once a challenge or opportunity to improve has been identified, nurses with a master's degree are well educated and prepared to measure the impact of these innovations, find solutions for clinically-based challenges, and effectively educate on new and/or improved ways to provide patient care.  

ISU offers a well-rounded and comprehensive nursing education with a focus on rural and frontier settings, which make up much of the state. Students are prepared to care for patients across their lifespan, particularly among the rural and underserved populations.  The online Master of Science in Nursing allows nurses to learn from anywhere, and apply knowledge through a final practicum experience in the educator and clinical role. Dr. Karen Neill, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Nursing at ISU, says “This program is online so students don’t have to move, we even set up their clinicals where they are located. It is a smaller program which allows you to have one on one interactions with the faculty and learn through strong mentoring and build relationships with them.”

The Ph.D. in Nursing program gives nurses the opportunity to research a topic in the nursing field that may need more understanding or choose a research topic they are passionate about. Many of the nurses who are working to obtain their doctorate in nursing philosophy are changing nursing as we know it. These nurses are putting forth the effort to expand their knowledge about ground-breaking topics such as pre - diabetes in Latino populations and father involvement with babies in the NICU. Sharing that knowledge with others eventually provides pathways for nurses in any environment to provide better care to their patients. Individuals who receive their Ph.D. are classified as nurse scientists, since they are conducting their own research, often revealing never-before discovered information.

Mary Nies, Director of Nursing Research for the College of Nursing says, “The benefit of getting a Ph.D. in Nursing is that you can generate new knowledge. The Ph.D. gives you the opportunity to improve healthcare in communities, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. It is exciting.” Dr. Nies explains that going through the programs at ISU allows a doctoral level student to learn how to identify, articulate and share their newly discovered knowledge, helping other nurses provide better care. Nurses with a Ph.D. can work at universities, hospitals, government agencies, or healthcare departments. Depending on where they work, these nurse scientists can interact with patients if they are in a hospital setting researching specific illnesses, or if they are focused more on community research, then they meet with people at places like their church or a community center. “By completing a Ph.D. in nursing, you are awarded an unlimited amount of career opportunities,” adds Dr. Nies.

In the same manner as ISU’s Master of Science in Nursing, the curriculum used in the nursing Ph.D. is focused more on rural health than other programs. “We have fantastic faculty that are excited about what they do. ISU is the only school in the state of Idaho that offers a Ph.D. in Nursing program. Since this is a smaller school you get to know your professors and build a relationship with them.  Even if you aren’t interested in rural health, one can still get a high quality education,” says Dr. Nies.

Both Pocatello and Meridian, Idaho are home to a plethora of opportunities for any lifestyle. You will find ample opportunities for family oriented activities, cultural events, outdoor adventure, and an active nightlife in both cities. Idaho State University also enjoys active support from the state legislature and Board of Education. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master's (M.S. in Nursing, Education), and Baccalaureate (B.S. in Nursing) degree programs at Idaho State University College of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, 202-887-6791.

The application period for the Master of Science in Nursing program or the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program starts September 1st each year with a priority deadline of December 1st. Applications will be accepted after December 1st on a rolling basis until a cohort is filled. For more information on application requirements and applying to these programs, please contact Jack Hadlich by email at hadljack@isu.edu or by phone at 208-282-4346.

Written by: Lindsay Taylor, College of Nursing Career Path Intern

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