For the students in Endicott’s new Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, their interest in a healthcare career couldn’t come soon enough.
That’s because hospitals and healthcare providers are grappling with a nationwide nursing shortage crisis, with too few registered nurses to ensure patients receive safe and high-quality care. And this gap is only growing.
Analysts have predicted that the number of registered nurses nationally would need to increase by 1.2 million by 2030 to meet patient needs—and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the nursing workforce has decreased by approximately 5 percent.
Enter Project Nightingale.
Developed as Endicott’s response to this crisis, Project Nightingale is a collaboration between strategic and philanthropic partners to take a multi-pronged approach to address the local and national need for nursing professionals.
Focusing on three crucial areas—infrastructure and partnerships, innovative modalities for overcoming institutional barriers to nursing education, and train-the-trainer programs to teach future nurses—Project Nightingale has already helped establish a historic partnership between Endicott and Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals. Now, with Endicott’s ABSN program at the new Cummings School of Nursing and Health Sciences, students have an opportunity to become a nurse within 16 months and make an immediate impact in healthcare.
Tailored to career changers and recent graduates, the ABSN curriculum combines in-person classroom studies, lab experiences, and hands-on clinical work in various healthcare settings. This combination is what made the ABSN a particularly attractive option for Peter Kilcommons '23.
“Some of the other programs I looked at were only online,” said Kilcommons, who has a B.S. in neurobiology from Georgetown University. “I wanted the kind of in-person learning where you physically show up to a class. The academic curriculum is very practical and has applicable knowledge. I learn something one day, and then go to clinicals and see it in real life.”
The ABSN curriculum includes study in various areas, including acute care nursing, psychosocial nursing, care of children, childbearing families, care of adults, and pharmacology. Students experience a rigorous academic education combined with the opportunity to explore a variety of future career paths.
For Chris Morrison, who graduated from Endicott in 2016 with a degree in biotechnology and went on to work as an EMT and nursing assistant, healthcare was the field he always wanted to end up in, “but I wasn’t sure in what capacity,” he said. Once he started working as an EMT, “it became clear to me that I didn’t want to do just acute care, but help make decisions for patients’ care and be part of their healthcare journey.”
Morrison learned about the ABSN from his undergraduate thesis advisor and mentor, Jessica Kaufman, Professor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering. That the program gave Morrison a chance to return to the Endicott campus and continue the strong relationships he built as an undergraduate student is an extra bonus.
“I had always known I wanted to go back to Endicott in some way,” Morrison said. “I went to one of the information sessions and was impressed with how they described the program. It sounds cliche, but it just felt right.”
Kimi Michael ’23 is pursuing her education while balancing her roles as a wife to her husband, Paul, and as a mother to her two young sons, 8-year-old Zeb and 6-year-old Boone.
“The professors want us to succeed,” she said. “I went to information sessions at other schools, and they’d say things like, ‘10 percent of you won’t make it through this program.’ Endicott is different. The professors will do everything in their power to make sure everyone makes it through.”
If you talk to recent ABSN graduate Annie McKeown ’22, every minute of hard work was worth it. As one of the first five graduates of the program, McKeown is among the earliest group of students to experience the full ABSN curriculum.
“During my clinicals, I felt like I was more than just a student, and that my voice was heard and my opinion was valued,” said McKeown, who is now working in a new nursing graduate program in the Emergency Department at Salem Hospital. “The professors provided me with constant support that I couldn’t have found anywhere else. I don’t think Endicott could have prepared us any better.”
At her pinning ceremony, McKeown recalled, “my family cried and said, ‘We can see how much your professors know and value you, and how excited they are for you to become a nurse,’” she said. “It was one of the best days of my life.”