William Jewell’s fast-track nursing program attracting adults looking for a change

LIBERTY, Mo. -- The career path doesn't end with one college degree for everyone.

The nursing program at William Jewell College has a growing number of students who have re-enrolled in school, seeking a new line of work. Many of them are on the fast track to that career change, too.

The college's accelerated nursing program offers a popular study tract that offers a bachelors in nursing in as little as 12 months.

Nursing department leaders say they signed up 200 students last spring. Half of them already had a college degree in another line of work.

Jewell offers traditional nursing tracks, which take as long as four years to get a degree. But the popularity of the accelerated course appeals to working adults.

"There's really no breaks. The longest break we've had is four to five weeks," said Joe Reith, a William Jewell nursing student.

Reith already has two college degrees, and he used to work as a  youth pastor. But a life in nursing -- and his 16-month program -- look appealing to him.

"I fell in love with it once I shadowed at the hospital a little bit for a couple of days and found out that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my career," he said.

"Jewell has it down to a science," nursing student Jennifer Myers said.

Myers should know. She has a degree in biology, which is knowledge that fits her new track well.

"They're allowed to use that prior experience and incorporate it into their current knowledge. It makes it a unique experience for everyone. They bring their own thing into it," she said.

Leesa McBroom, William Jewell's nursing department chair, said many people are seeking that additional college degree because there's something missing from their current job.

"Our students are usually looking to make a difference in their community, and nursing brings that for them," she said. "They're compassionate, caring people who want to use their intellect and critical thinking skills, but also care for people."

A spokesperson for William Jewell College said many graduates use the accelerated degree to reach nurse practitioner status.

The students FOX4 met for this story are all due to graduate in May, and all of them have jobs in metro hospitals awaiting them. McBroom said that's proof this tough industry has rewards for those who seek them.

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