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It’s time to apply for online Master of Science in Nursing degree

The nation’s first graduate nursing program to integrate nursing and social work practice will begin in September

by USC School of Social Work staff
HSC nurse
Nursing@USC is designed to prepare nurses for clinical leadership roles. (Photo/Van Urfalian)

The USC School of Social Work is now accepting applications for Nursing@USC, a new online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) for aspiring family nurse practitioners (FNPs).

Nursing@USC is the first graduate nursing program in the United States to integrate nursing and social work practice. It’s designed to prepare nurses for clinical leadership roles through an understanding of the biological, behavioral and social factors that influence health and well-being. The first class begins in September.

The transformation of health care delivery in the United States has emphasized the need for a more holistic approach to nursing — one that includes social determinants in nursing education, research and health policy. Graduates will be prepared to address the complexity of health needs for patients, particularly those in vulnerable populations, working toward an improved and equitable health care system for all.

Program leaders

The school has appointed Ellen Olshansky chair of the new Department of Nursing and Sharon O’Neill vice chair and director of the program, the department’s first advanced practice specialization.

Olshansky, one of the nation’s leading experts in women’s health, was the founding director of the nursing science program at the University of California, Irvine and has been engaged in teaching and research for more than 30 years. She also serves as a board member for the American Academy of Nursing.

O’Neill holds dual post-master certification as a pediatric primary care nurse practitioner and a family nurse practitioner from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She served as the program coordinator of the FNP program at Johns Hopkins for seven years. She is also an attorney. Until recently, she acted as in-house legal counsel to the Kennedy Krieger Institute for more than 13 years.

We believe combining nursing and social work will prepare a new kind of nurse.

Ellen Olshansky

“Evidence suggests 80 percent of health is influenced by social, psychological, environmental and behavioral factors. These ‘social determinants of health’ play a greater role than factors typically associated with our well-being,” Olshansky said. “We believe combining nursing and social work will prepare a new kind of nurse who can effectively integrate this knowledge into practice and be the catalyst for making health care better.

“I had a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley before I pursued nursing as a career, and am excited to have the opportunity to bring all parts of my career full circle,” she added. “I think this collaboration of disciplines can truly make strides in creating a more socially just world where everyone can experience optimum health.”

Start dates in fall and beyond

Nursing@USC is powered by technology education company 2U Inc. through its cloud-based software-as-a-service technology platform.

Students across the country will meet weekly through live online classes. In addition, they will attend two on-campus intensive experiences, where they will perform in-person assessments in a collaborative learning environment on the University Park Campus. Students also will complete approximately 800 clinical hours in a variety of health care settings in their local communities to gain hands-on experience in assessing, diagnosing and managing health problems while applying unique skills learned through the program’s holistic approach.

The degree consists of 49 credits offered on a full-time (five semesters) and part-time (eight semesters) basis and can be completed in 21 to 33 months. Each year, there will be three start dates in September, January and May. The first Nursing@USC application deadline is July 11, with the first class beginning this fall.

Nursing@USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and will pursue accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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