Penn Highlands Healthcare, BC3 @ Brockway forge partnership

On July 28, Penn Highlands Healthcare announced it will help expand BC3 @ Brockway’s registered nursing program by sponsoring tuition for select students who sign an employment agreement, and by providing annual operating funds and additional clinical space for on-site instruction.

This fall, Penn Highlands Healthcare will begin to fund tuition for up to 30 qualified students it refers each year to BC3 @ Brockway’s career program in Nursing, R.N., through a partnership intended to address a regional shortage in nursing.

In exchange, qualified students referred by Penn Highlands Healthcare to BC3 @ Brockway’s 4- year-old Nursing, R.N., program will sign an employment agreement with the health system that has hospitals and other facilities in 39 Pennsylvania counties.

Officials with Penn Highlands Healthcare and Butler County Community College signed an initial four-year agreement in which Penn Highlands will also provide operating funds to support increased enrollment and expanded clinical space at Penn Highlands Healthcare, where qualified staff members will administer on-site instruction.

“This is a great opportunity for people in the region who wish to pursue careers in nursing,” said Heather Franci, Chief Nursing Officer and Service Line Director for the Heart Center, Lung Center, Brain & Spine and Oncology Services for Penn Highlands Healthcare. “We are excited to partner with BC3 @ Brockway to create this professional pathway that will provide financial assistance and high-quality educational opportunities to the students.”

Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of the college. shared Mrs. Franci’s sentiments. “The partnership demonstrates Penn Highlands Healthcare’s belief in BC3, and specifically, the Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health,” Neupauer said. “You don’t make that type of investment in potential employees, as well as assisting the college in operating expenses that would lead to

this expansion with BC3 @ Brockway, unless there was a great belief. And Penn Highlands clearly believes in BC3.”

Dr. Patty Annear, Dean of BC3’s Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health, also is excited
about the collaboration. “This is a win-win situation for both. Penn Highlands knows the clinical end, and BC3, the academic end. This partnership is ideal in helping the community with the nursing shortage.”

Penn Highlands has nearly 6,700 employees in more than 150 locations that include hospitals, community medical buildings, outpatient facilities, surgery centers and physician practices. It will also sponsor tuition to students currently enrolled in BC3 @ Brockway’s registered nursing program who sign an employment agreement.

BC3 @ Brockway’s service area includes Clarion, Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties.

“It helps in our service area to address the nursing shortage,” Neupauer said. “It is a way of demonstrating again that we can’t go at this alone. We need the appropriate partners with whom to collaborate. And Penn Highlands has really demonstrated that it will be very good partners moving forward.”

Registered nurse is a high-priority occupation in the North Central and Northwest Workforce Development Areas, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s Center for Workforce Information & Analysis. The North Central Workforce Development Area includes Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties and the Northwest Workforce Development Area, Clarion County.

A 9% increase in jobs is expected through 2030, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BC3 @ Brockway recognized its largest class of graduates in Nursing, R.N., in May. Fifteen of the 16 graduates had jobs prior to completing the 70-credit program, said Brittany Guadagno, a faculty member in BC3 @ Brockway’s Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health. Many indicated they had accepted positions in Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties.

“I believe one of the reasons that Penn Highlands ultimately selected us is because our students tend to be a bit more local and tend to stay in the area,” Annear said. “Penn Highlands has a big draw in that area. Many of our graduates (of BC3 @ Brockway’s Nursing, R.N., program) go there to work.”

Mrs. Franci shared her thoughts. “BC3 @ Brockway offers an excellent nursing program that effectively prepares students to transition from the classroom to the clinical setting to provide skilled and compassionate care to patients. We look forward to hiring even more registered nurses from the BC3 Nursing, R.N. program.”

For additional information about Penn Highlands Healthcare’s tuition sponsorship and employment agreement, contact the Nurse Recruiters in the Penn Highlands Healthcare Human Resources Department at 814-375-3355.

Graduates in BC3 @ Brockway’s Class of 2022 in Nursing, R.N., reported they will or intend to work in critical care, emergency rooms, medical-surgery floors, operating rooms and in post-anesthesia care units.

To attain licensure, graduates of BC3 @ Brockway’s Nursing, R.N., program take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. An average of 90 percent of BC3’s first- time NCLEX-RN test-takers in the past three years have been successful, Annear said.

Tuition and fees for BC3 @ Brockway students pursuing 15 credits per semester for one year in 2022-2023 are $8,400.

The median salary for registered nurses in Clarion, Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties in 2022 is $66,629, according to Emsi, an Idaho research company that conducts economic impact analyses for educational institutions.

Applications for fall 2023 consideration in BC3 @ Brockway’s Nursing, R.N., program will be accepted beginning Aug. 1.

Students can also take pre-nursing courses at BC3 @ Brockway, where they can finish the career program in Nursing, R.N.

Registered nurses can assess patients’ conditions, record medical histories, symptoms and observations; administer medicine and treatments, operate and monitor medical equipment, and help to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

BC3 opened BC3 @ Brockway in 2013 to serve under-represented counties in Pennsylvania with higher education.

The college’s associate degree program in nursing, which began in 1973, expanded in 2018 to include BC3 @ Brockway in Brockway.

As of July 27, BC3 @ Brockway enrolled 48 first-level and 14 second-level students in Nursing, R.N.

“We’ve seen that the need is really there,” Annear said. “And we have increased those numbers so much. And we expect with this partnership, we’re going to accommodate even more.”