Log In

Reset Password

LVHN nursing school adds night classes

Officials at the Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pottsville said they often heard from people who were interested in getting a nursing degree but couldn’t attend weekday classes because of work or family obligations.

That will change in the fall, when a registered nursing program will be offered evenings and weekends at the Pottsville school and LVHN’s Center for Healthcare Education in Center Valley.

“We’ve been talking about this for two years,” said Jennifer Jones-Lapp, DNP, the school’s director of strategic development.

Jones-Lapp said that the school holds open houses twice each year. At those events, she and the school’s director, Tina Van Buren, DNP, often heard attendees say that standard full-time day program didn’t suit their needs because of daily commitments.

They suggested that a more flexible program - one offered evenings and weekends - be offered.

Jones-Lapp and Van Buren got to work on making the nontraditional hours happen.

And earlier this week, the school received the go-ahead from the Pennsylvania Department of Nursing to offer the evening and weekend program.

“This really opens up a lot of opportunities for a lot of people,” Jones-Lapp said. “It’s too difficult (for some) to stop everything and go to school full-time every day.”

Van Buren said there is a “desperate” need for nurses, so offering the alternate times was a fit.

“We need to develop or prepare enough nurses to replace people who are retiring,” she said.

She noted that Baby Boomers will be coming to the age where they need nursing care.

“We have to continue to replenish these positions and make sure that there are enough people to take care of the patients that are inpatients and also take care of the people that are outpatients, those in nursing homes, in long term care, in home care and things of that nature,” Van Buren said.

She cited statistics from the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania, which notes that while there is a growing need for care, there are not enough nursing professionals to provide it. The hospital staff vacancy for registered nurses in Pennsylvania is 31% making it the most severe in the nation.

The shortage, Van Buren said, is attributed to an aging nursing staff, too few graduates of health education programs, more patients who need care and life changes because of the pandemic.

“We just need to continue to replace those nurses,” Van Buren said.

More students in more classes mean more registered nurses - and that means more patient care, she noted.

According to information from LVHN, the Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing is a full-time, three-year, nonresident dual enrollment program with Alvernia University. The educational program includes one year (two semesters) of university courses and two years (six terms) of nursing and university courses. The nursing course component builds on a base of 28 credits from Alvernia University - Schuylkill Campus. Required courses completed at other colleges and universities will be considered for transfer before enrollment. Graduates of the program will receive both an RN diploma and an Associate Degree in Applied Science. Graduates qualify to take the NCLEX-RN Licensure Examination.

Applications are now being accepted for the fall 2024 semester for the new evening/weekend program as well as the traditional daytime program by visiting LVHN.org. For students hoping to enter in the fall, applications must be received by July 1. The fall semester begins Aug. 26. There are certain educational prerequisites needed for the evening/weekend program. Admissions colleagues are available at 570-621-5035.

Those working at Lehigh Valley Health Network and attending the school may be eligible for tuition reimbursement if they agree to continue working with the network.

The School of Nursing was created in 1895 as part of The Pottsville Hospital and its founding mission, ‘to care for the sick and injured and to educate nurses’. When The Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center merged in 2008, the School’s name changed to the new entity and became Schuylkill Health School of Nursing. In 2012, the board of directors of Schuylkill Health decided to honor retiring Chairman of the Board, Judge Joseph F. McCloskey by naming the school in his honor. Judge McCloskey, as Chairman of the Board of the former Pottsville Hospital, is credited with preserving the school in the mid 1980s. The School of Nursing has graduated more than 2,500 nurses in its 129-year history. It has been the chief supplier of registered nurses to Schuylkill County hospitals, clinics and private practices. Its graduates have worked all over the nation and all around the world.

“Our school has been there for 129 years so being able to offer different options of flexibility assures that our school can stay there,” Jones-Lapp said.

The Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pottsville will begin offering night and weekend classes in registered nursing. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Shannon and Olivia Frycklund, of Jim Thorpe, visited the open house held recently at the Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pottsville. Olivia will graduate this year from Jim Thorpe High School with enough college credits to enter the nursing program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Tina VanBuren, DNP, Director of the Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing, talks with Shannon and Olivia Frycklund, of Jim Thorpe, during an open house held recently. The school will add evening and weekend classes this year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO