College of Nursing renamed to include health sciences

Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:50:00 PM

Cardinal Stritch University has renamed its Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing to recognize its ongoing development of academic programs in health sciences, beginning with the first post-licensure Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion program in the state of Wisconsin. 

The college will now be known as the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The name change was prompted in part by the new Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion Program, which is the first of several new health sciences programs in development at Stritch. 

“This name change signifies that the University is answering the call of the community,” said Stritch President Dr. James Loftus. “After more than three decades of offering exemplary nursing programs at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s level, Stritch is responding to the needs of the Milwaukee community with innovative programs in health sciences, starting with the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy Completion program.”

The Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences has provided high-quality nursing education since 1980. At that time, Stritch took over a program run by the Sacred Heart School of Practical Nursing that prepared licensed practical nurses and began offering an Associate in Science degree in nursing to meet new state requirements. 

A bachelor in nursing program was established in 1983, and a master’s degree in nursing was added in 1998, which focused on nurse educators. Stritch was the first institution of higher education in Wisconsin to offer such a degree. In April 2003, the college was named in honor of benefactor Ruth S. Coleman, for her continuing support of nursing education. Coleman had thought of becoming a nurse as a young woman, but that when such a career path was not possible for her, she set about caring for people by establishing scholarships to support nursing students. She also supported medical research. 

The Respiratory Therapy Completion Program allows existing respiratory therapists an opportunity to advance their careers by completing a bachelor’s degree. The program is offered online and is designed to take two years to complete. 

Although associate degree programs in respiratory therapy can be found across the state, Stritch will be the first institution of higher education in Wisconsin to offer a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, which will fill a critical need within healthcare across the state.  

A recent study conducted by the American Association for Respiratory Care reiterated that the current healthcare environment requires more skills than ever before. The volume of knowledge and skills that a respiratory therapy student must learn increases yearly, yet the amount of hours in the classroom, lab and clinical settings are limited at the associate degree level. 

“Due to the increasing complexity of healthcare and federal regulation changes, the healthcare community is asking for respiratory therapists to be prepared at the baccalaureate level,” said Dr. Kelly Dries, dean of the college. “Stritch is offering practicing respiratory therapists the first opportunity for advancement beyond an associate degree within Wisconsin, which is an excellent start to the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences.”

The online format of the program will allow students the flexibility to further their education while maintaining their work schedule. For students who seek a face-to-face delivery format, the program will offer some optional in-person classroom time within each course. Based upon need, separate online and face-to-face versions of the program may be implemented in the future. 

To ease the admissions process, Stritch has created an articulation agreement with the seven Wisconsin technical colleges that offer an associate degree in respiratory therapy.