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Rutgers School of Nursing becomes top graduate program in NJ

<p><strong>In the last four years, Rutgers’ College of Nursing rose from 79th place to 25th place for graduate programs in the United States.</strong></p>

In the last four years, Rutgers’ College of Nursing rose from 79th place to 25th place for graduate programs in the United States.

Four years ago, the Rutgers College of Nursing ranked 79th in the country according to the U.S. News and World Report ranking of graduate nursing programs. But now, the University is considered one of the top 25 graduate nursing programs in 2015.

Ranking at No. 25, the Rutgers School of Nursing advanced more than 50 places, beating out No. 72 Seton Hall and No. 161 Monmouth University as the top graduate nursing program in New Jersey, according to the U.S. News and World Report.

“We’re clearly one of the larger schools in the nation now,” said William Holzemer, dean of Nursing at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. “It’s very powerful for us.”

More than 500 nursing schools that offered master’s or doctoral programs accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing were surveyed. Only 246 were eligible for ranking, according to the U.S. News Best Nursing Schools rankings website.

Following the recent merger of the Rutgers College of Nursing and the School of Nursing at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Rutgers School of Nursing became one of the largest nursing programs in the country, with more than 1,800 students and 130 faculty members, Holzemer said.

Holzemer praised his faculty in response to the ranking and said it would not have been possible without their ability to raise awareness for the program.

“I think our faculty and administration (have) been out educating the community about who we are and what we are doing,” Holzemer said. “This merger has been watched across the country, because it’s quite a large event for higher education.”

Holzemer, a distinguished professor and dean of the Rutgers College of Nursing for more than six years, commended his faculty and staff for ensuring the college’s standards were kept high throughout the merger.

“I think we have made great strides in sustaining the quality of all our programs throughout this merger,” Holzemer said.

While the ranking may have its greatest affect on the School of Nursing’s graduate program, the demand for the undergraduate program is competitive and expects competition to rise due to the ranking, Holzemer said.

“Being a state school we have a very high priority to serve the people of New Jersey,” he said. “Unlike many schools at the University, we have very few out of state undergraduate students, partially because we have such a very strong competitive qualified pool of applicants.”

The recent ranking will garner more recognition for the program, Holzemer said. He said he hopes to gain access to the resources needed to expand upon the school and meet demand, mentioning the need for dedicated buildings on both the Newark and New Brunswick campuses.

“It’s extremely competitive to get into our undergraduate program,” he said. “I think, with some luck, this may let us expand our program by getting some new resources and taking more people into our undergraduate program.”

Acknowledging the range of studies offered at the University, Holzemer said nursing is a rewarding field that he hopes more students will be attracted to.

“Rutgers has lots of choices, and nursing is an extremely competitive, viable career now and people might take notice,” Holzemer said. “Most of our graduates, within three months of passing their licensing exams, all have jobs.”

Holzemer was not the only faculty member that feels the ranking would benefit the School of Nursing.

Sarah Kelly, program director of the Generic Baccalaureate Program, said the ranking and additional specializations will assist New Jersey students looking to stay and help their communities.

“It just opens up people's opportunities for more areas to specialize in,” Kelly said. “You want to be able to specialize in the areas you want to and the more schools that offer different types of programs is only beneficial to the nurse and the community.”

As an undergraduate professor, Kelly said she feels nursing students will find an expanded array of areas to study in the Rutgers School of Nursing targeted toward all students, undergraduates and graduates.

The recent ranking will act as an incentive to entice undergraduates to continue their education at Rutgers, Kelly said.

“I think Rutgers has a wide variety of specialized tracks,” she said. “There’s different avenues when you get into nursing that you can specialize in. You have an opportunity to explore and see what fits your needs.”

Sakura Ando, a School of Nursing senior, was happy to hear of the recent ranking and said she feels students will benefit from the ranking when searching for work.

The president at large of the Rutgers School of Nursing Student Senate, Ando said the school has come a long way since the merger, and she hopes the ranking will assist in creating a context for nursing to become more prevalent and respected.

“I think it makes what we do more relevant,” Ando said. “I think it brings more importance to what we do.”

As a student approaching graduation, Ando said she believes the ranking will increase student interest in the school and might create an opportunity for Rutgers to become more involved in statewide healthcare topics.

“It’s definitely gong to be a magnet for advanced degrees because we have a lot of specializations that other schools don’t provide,” Ando said. “I look forward to RBHS and the School of Nursing becoming more active in New Jersey and healthcare politics.”

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