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National Park College to pursue four year degrees

Hot Springs, Arkansas – The National Park College (NPC) Board of Trustees approved a resolution allowing the College to move forward with submitting a Letter of Intent to the Arkansas Division of Higher Education to offer bachelor’s degrees. The resolution was presented Wednesday during the regular monthly board meeting.
Dr. Wade Derden, Vice President for Academic Affairs explained the importance of the decision to pursue four-year degrees. “I bring a resolution to you today that has important implications for the future of this college and for the future of this county. With this resolution, we are asking you to grant permission for us to pursue the approvals necessary to add bachelor’s degrees to our program menu.”
The College plans to begin with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree due to the critical need for the local health care industry and because students have repeatedly expressed the need for the degree. “Our BSN would be a post-licensure completion degree for the students that complete our RN program and any registered nurse in the area that wishes to achieve their BSN.” He also noted the challenges ahead, “The process to do this will be long and will require a separate site visit by Higher Learning Commission and by state appointed visitors, although we are hoping to coordinate that effort. Even if we can get all the approvals, I cannot imagine us offering the degree before fall 2023, so we are at the starting line here,” added Derden.
The resolution initiates the approval process with the state, the federal government, and the Higher Learning Commission to grant permission to change NPC’s scope of offerings to include bachelor’s level programming. Derden said the BSN degree proposal would come later, potentially at the October Board meeting.
Dr. Douglas Ross, president for CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs explained the dire need for nursing graduates, “There is a significant nursing shortage across the country and certainly across Arkansas. There were significant shortages even before the COVID pandemic. If you look nationally in the next three to five years, there is going to be a need for over two million nurses.”
Ross emphasized the hospital’s commitment to provide quality care by seeking a magnet status and the importance of BSN credentialed nursing staff. “Not only is it a number of demand, but it’s really quality. That is why I applaud National Park taking this next step toward the BSN program.
NPC President, Dr. John Hogan noted the College is responding to the community’s need. “Our local healthcare providers and the larger community have expressed the need for qualified nurses in Garland County and NPC is prepared to answer that call.” He emphasized that NPC will remain dedicated to the community college mission. “NPC is, first and always, a community college. I am dedicated to that mission, the governance of NPC, its role in workforce and community development, and my belief that our work is extremely important to the future of this community. Today’s approval initiating the process for NPC to offer a BSN is an extension of that community college mission.”
 
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National Park College was established in 1973 and is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The College enrolls over 7,500 credit and non-credit students per year. NPC is a comprehensive two-year institution offering associate degrees and certificates as well as continuing education, community services and workforce training.

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