With many healthcare systems in Ohio and across the nation requiring new nurse hires to have earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Heidelberg’s new nursing program is coming at the right time to address the rising market need for more highly skilled nurses entering the healthcare profession. And now, the program has a director to guide it through to accreditation and design the courses that will be taught at Heidelberg.
Dr. Karen Estridge, a registered nurse, healthcare administrator and professor, arrived in May to begin her work to develop Heidelberg’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, announced last year. The program, to be offered in cooperation with Terra State Community College, will provide general preparation in theoretical and clinical applications in nursing that align with regulatory and accreditation standards.
Karen comes to Heidelberg from Ashland University, where she spent the past eight years as a professor, assessment coordinator, and gerontology program director in AU’s Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Her previous administrative leadership positions were at MedCentral College of Nursing in Mansfield and Marion General Hospital in Marion. In addition to nursing administration, Karen was a practicing nurse at Marion General Hospital for 17 years, Morrow County Hospital for four years, including the position of vice president for patient care for three years, and Doctors Hospital North in Columbus for five years.
Given her passion for students and learning, Karen is the right person to guide Heidelberg’s new program. “Through this program, we will promote confidence, knowledge and a strong drive to be an ideal nurse that represents nursing in a professional way,” she says.
A native of Bucyrus and current resident of Willard, Karen became a registered nurse in 1983 following her graduation from Capital University. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing degree in Nursing Service Administration from Otterbein College School of Nursing and her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, Education Excellence Track, from Case Western Reserve University.
The Heidelberg-Terra State partnership was announced in December. The 1+2+1 program would begin with one year of core coursework at Heidelberg, follow with two years of nursing study at Terra State, becoming licensed, and then conclude with the final year of coursework at Heidelberg.
At the conclusion of the program, students will have earned an associate’s degree in applied science from Terra State and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Heidelberg. Additionally, several specialized certifications are planned as part of their fourth-year coursework to enable the registered nurses to gain useful knowledge in community and acute care settings, gain additional leadership skills, build an impressive portfolio and increase marketability as professionals.
Over the next few months, Karen is working through the process to gain approval from the Higher Learning Commission and Ohio Department of Higher Education. The program will also seek accreditation from the American Academy of Colleges of Nursing, which will be completed before the program will officially be offered to students. Karen also is creating eight innovative and scholarly fourth-year courses, all of which will be offered in eight-week terms online, designed to lessen the felt workload for students.
“My goal is to offer courses that are purposeful, that lead to personal and professional growth and that are friendly, flexible and convenient to working nurses,” Estridge said.