Utica, NY (WIBX) - A new nursing program at Utica College is combining onsite and online learning to create a first of its kind program in the state.

The recently approved accelerated second-degree nursing program allows students to take theory classes online, but also practice their skills at a Liverpool-based learning site.

Dr. Cathy Brownell, associate professor of nursing, says the program makes use of the college's resources and partnerships.

"We are working with an educational partnership that has five other programs in the country that use this model," Brownell said. "The beauty of the model is it allows us to capitalize on the number of nursing faculty that we have and it allows us to capitalize on the number of clinical sites."

Starting in January, students will study year-round for 16 months to earn their degrees. Prospective students already have a bachelor's degree and have experience taking courses relating to the nursing field. Though the full-time program is intensive, Brownell says it correlates directly with the rising demand for nurses.

"There has been an ongoing nursing shortage that is only predicted to get much, much worse in the next few years," Brownell said. "Between nurses that are aging out and beginning to retire and with the population aging as rapidly as it is, the prediction for nursing needs is quite significant."

Although the costs total about $48,000, more than 1,600 people have shown interest. She says the initial investment is high, but the reward is worth it.

"You invest quite a bit up front in that education, but a beginning nurse in this area can expect to make somewhere between $20 and $22 dollars an hour during a regular shift," Brownell said. "So, they're very decent paying jobs... it's a worthy investment and that's why I think you see so many people willing to do it."

Brownell hopes to have a cohort of 24 students begin in January. For more information regarding the Utica College accelerated nursing program, click here or call 1 (888) 807-5758.

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