Saint Leo University is launching a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program beginning Fall Semester 2021 at its University Campus, north of Tampa. This program is designed to prepare students for generalist nursing practice within complex health care systems.

"We are thrilled to be adding the Bachelor of Science in Nursing to our College of Health Professions. This is a contemporary and competitive program that will incorporate best practices and current innovation to prepare our graduates for future career opportunities throughout Florida and throughout the United States," said Saint Leo University President Jeffrey D. Senese. "There is a growing demand for nurses across the country, and Saint Leo is well-positioned to help meet this need."

The limited-access program will be accepting new students into pre-nursing coursework in arts and sciences during the first two years, including courses in anatomy, microbiology, math, writing, ethics, and psychology. Students will then apply to the nursing program during their sophomore year to begin the nursing-major courses in year three. The application process is competitive and limited spaces are available for the BSN program. This program format will allow for potential transfer students and second-degree students who may want to pursue their BSN degree in a shorter time-frame to consider Saint Leo.

There is a growing need for nurses in the coming years as a result of the rapidly aging U.S. population and a simultaneous number of nurses retiring. The global pandemic continues to support this urgent need for licensed nurses in the field as the health care system undergoes a major transformation in structure and groundbreaking technology advances.

"We are excited to offer future professionals a strong curriculum that is also unusual in having a contemporary focus on holistic wellness for all people—meaning individual patients, families, and communities—and an emphasis on the well-being of the nurse," said Dr. Mary Spoto, vice president for Academic Affairs. "Teaching future nurses to cultivate their own well-being is a good way to reduce turnover in the profession, and that serves everyone in society," Spoto explained.

Upper-level nursing courses will commence in Fall Semester 2023 and the university anticipates having 48 spots for students in the first group admitted. Students will participate in theory, simulation, lab, and clinical experiences at a variety of health care and community agencies including West Florida Advent Health and others. The program will prepare graduates who can provide safe, quality care with an emphasis on wellness. The first group will complete their studies in Spring Semester 2025.

Pathway to Fulfilling Careers

Upon successful completion of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), graduates are able to work as registered nurses. "Nurses who have a BSN are favored regionally and nationally by health care employers and are well-positioned for career opportunities and continuing education," said Dr. Kathleen Van Eerden, associate dean for the College of Health Professions. Registered nurses are currently being hired into jobs with annual pay of $60,000 or more, sometimes with hiring bonuses, Van Eerden observed. Median pay in the profession was $73,300 last year, according to federal statistics.

Saint Leo, and its College of Health Professions, have distinct points of appeal for students considering nursing as a career, Van Eerden said. The learning community Saint Leo has established, with its culture rooted in Benedictine Catholic values, will be a positive environment for students as they develop the clinical judgment skills and compassion that will be required of them as professionals.

Another advantage offered at the Saint Leo campus includes the Anatomage Table, a 3-D educational display system that is usually found only in medical schools. The table displays actual X-rays of the human body and can be operated by touch-screen mode to help teach students in anatomy and physiology classes the various systems (respiratory, vascular, etc.) and structures they need to know as nurses.

Multiple Opportunities to Prepare for Work in the Health Care Sector

Pre-nursing and nursing students at Saint Leo will also encounter a growing community of undergraduate students with similar professional interests. For instance, the College of Health Professions also offers an on-campus four-year degree in health education and health promotion for those who prefer a career focused on planning and implementing wellness programs in businesses, healthcare agencies, and nonprofit and community organizations. The College of Arts and Sciences offers degree programs in biology and medical humanities that can lead to health care careers. And the Donald R. Tapia College of Business offers an undergraduate degree in health care administration for students interested in the business side of the health care sector.

The BSN will be available for undergraduate students only at Saint Leo's residential University Campus. Students applying for the Fall 2021 Semester will receive automatic scholarship consideration, such as consideration for any of Saint Leo's new Dare to Roar Scholarship Programs, which includes the Tuition Advantage Program for Florida residents.

The new BSN program has received approval from the Florida State Board of Nursing and is pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2021 Semester. For more information, email or call (352) 588-8283. Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.