Published by Acadeum
In the world of healthcare, the demand for skilled professionals is experiencing a significant surge. By 2030, the demand for Allied Health practitioners is expected to increase by as much as 30 percent, and the Bureau of Healthcare Workers projects over 200,000 annual job openings for Registered Nurses (RNs) through 2031. These statistics alone underscore the urgency of preparing students for the job market and keeping up with the workforce demand.
Addressing this demand presents several challenges for institutions, including acquiring and retaining faculty in specialized areas, attracting and maintaining enrollment, and offering diverse course modalities to meet the needs of the modern-day learner. Discover how institutions within the Acadeum network are coming together as a community of practice to overcome these obstacles by integrating courses from regionally accredited partner institutions with course sharing. Colleges and universities don’t have to go at these challenges alone and can leverage the network to quickly modernize and diversify academic portfolios to create new pathways for students that lead to in-demand careers.
Maintain Student Enrollment with Flexible Course Offerings and Modalities
As a member of the Acadeum network, Howard College, a Hispanic-serving institution in Texas, has been able to increase student access to science and lab courses to help students meet prerequisites and program requirements for programs such as their ADN RN and pre-med program. The impact of student success is exemplified through the story of Mirella Ornelas. Mirella completed her first year of the ADN RN program and needed one course in Nutrition and Diet therapy to meet the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) eligibility requirements. Since Howard College did not offer the class during the summer term, she was advised to register for the class through a partner institution in the Acadeum network. Mirella was able to meet the prerequisites to apply for the BSN program without having to delay her application an additional year. In the past three years, Howard College enrolled over 400 students through the course sharing network, with half of those students enrolled in science-related courses like Physics, Chemistry, A&P, and labs.
Ferrum College is in an area of Virginia that is facing a severe shortage of healthcare professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and pharmacists. Ferrum College offers an RN to BSN program and is in the process of developing a post-licensure program for clinical nurse leaders. Ferrum pointed to the Acadeum partnership as invaluable in supporting their students by offering the flexibility to find needed courses, especially for students with unique scheduling needs. Faculty and staff have experienced ease in finding relevant courses, and they receive positive feedback from their students who appreciate the ability to build relationships with professors in an online environment. Leveraging course sharing through the Acadeum network helps Ferrum College to keep students on track and avoid transferring to other institutions. Recently, they enrolled a new student who was able to start school in the spring instead of waiting an entire year, which means the student can enter the workforce earlier, thereby responding to the healthcare workforce shortage in the region.
Incorporating In-Demand Certifications While Creating On-Ramps that Attract New Learners
The Community College of Baltimore County has vast online learning opportunities with fully online degree offerings and embedded in-demand certifications to support the modern-day learner. CCBC continues to take an innovative approach as they look at how they will meet the rapidly changing workforce needs. Through collaboration within the Acadeum network, CCBC sees the potential to manage stackable credentials that cover the field from industry certification, workforce development certificates, credit certification, credit degrees, and associate degree transfer to a four-year degree. CCBC is finding ways to attract nurses who have previously transitioned out of nursing and show them new opportunities in the allied health field where their experience is in demand. With prior learning assessments and credits that offer former nurses degree pathways in health informatics and information technology, an LPN to RN or even an RN to a BSN. Acadeum provides the structure for institutions to collaborate to bridge these opportunities and to connect community colleges with four-year institutions for collaboration of shared resources and expertise.
Acquiring and Retaining Faculty in Specialized Areas
Another institution highlighting the impact of collaboration is Angelo State University. ASU has a vast nursing program with a high volume of student applicants and produces a large number of nursing graduates within its geographical area. Offering courses within the Acadeum network ensures that ASU accommodates student schedules and ensures they can take the prerequisites needed to become eligible to apply for their desired program. For example, many students need to take a course like Chemistry as a science requirement or to apply for its nursing program. ASU also leverages course sharing to support its faculty. Last summer, they had a faculty member who taught one of the prerequisite science courses who unexpectedly needed the summer off. ASU had 30 students enrolled to take the course who, without the use of course sharing, were about to be off track and not eligible to apply to the nursing program in the fall. ASU partnered with an institution within the Acadeum network to offer a dedicated section for those 30 students to remain on track in their pathways to a degree.
How Acadeum Supports Institutions
Managing specialized content and launching or enhancing programs that require specific equipment and faculty can be daunting and costly. In response to the growing workforce demand, Acadeum has forged partnerships with companies like MedCerts. This collaboration allows member institutions to quickly and affordably offer industry credentials, helping bridge the gap between education and employment. Collaboration with other institutions that already possess these resources can help address student needs efficiently and cost-effectively.
To ensure program sustainability, institutions need to think creatively and embrace collaboration. It’s essential to tackle these challenges together because they are not easily solvable independently. Program sharing enables colleges and universities to access or share high-quality courses and programs among like-minded institutions. Program sharing is a low-risk way to quickly launch in-demand programs, concentrations, or minors while maintaining institutional oversight and autonomy. Acadeum mobilizes a network for colleges and universities to access or share high-quality courses, launch new programs, and modernize existing portfolios, all while ensuring cost-effectiveness.
Empowering Learners to Graduate into Allied Health Workers
Meeting the surging demand for Allied Health practitioners is a shared responsibility. Higher education providers play a crucial role in helping learners navigate the complex world of healthcare education while also aligning programs and curricula to meet changing workforce demand. Collaborative efforts within the community of practice can provide learners with clear pathways to achieve their goals. Solutions offered through the Acadeum network empower institutions to offer diverse, cost-effective, and high-quality courses that prepare students for the growing field of healthcare. Through thoughtful collaboration, adaptability, and resourceful solutions, institutions partnering with Acadeum can collectively address the challenges and meet the rising demand for allied health workers.