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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Lawrence Stubbs attends orientation with other students enrolled in the accelerated Bachelor of Science nursing degree program at Roseman University of Health Sciences in South Jordan on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.
It's hard to teach compassion and caring if that's not an integral value that comes naturally. Nursing is not just emptying bed pans any more. I tell students that I expect they'll be doing things that haven't even been thought of yet. —Susan Watson

SOUTH JORDAN — Prospective nursing students on waiting lists at colleges and universities throughout the state have yet another option to obtain their sought-after degree — a new, accelerated nursing program at Roseman University.

The private school accepted its first class of bachelor-degree seeking nursing students this summer, and while Roseman has the capacity to accept up to 48 students for the almost 16-month, mostly online course, the starting class is just 12 students strong.

Lawrence Stubbs, 31, is one of the chosen few who had been searching for the right fit for his family just as the Utah school obtained its accreditation in May.

"For me, it's the lifestyle. I want to be able to be in one place for a while," Stubbs said. "It's what I want for my family."

After getting a degree in biology from BYU-Idaho, Stubbs started looking for "what's next." A fledgling program in New Mexico turned out to be smaller than he'd expected, so he returned to Utah and settled at Roseman, which he found had a good reputation out of Nevada and a growing presence on the Wasatch Front.

Stubbs spent a lot of time researching his options and knew that as a kid from a big family in Colorado City, Arizona, where he was homeschooled many years, he might not fare well enough in the tough competition at other larger programs in the area. He applied at the University of Utah, but problems with delivery of his transcripts pushed him out of the gaggle of hundreds of applicants and, along with many others, he was told to "apply next year."

With a wife, a 2-year-old daughter, and a baby on the way, Stubbs didn't think he had much time to sit on a wait list, or to continue applying to various schools. He felt he was more than ready for nursing school and was just losing time and earning potential.

"There's not a lot of options," he said. "It was either do it now or work construction."

Stubbs is the first in his family to earn a college degree, let alone seek a second one in nursing — something very different than the construction businesses his brothers have succeeded in. He has worked in construction, recently finishing a project on I-15 that he found very rewarding, but the work "is hot and takes a toll on your body," he said.

Nursing, and eventually running his own family practice, he said, offers more safety and stability.

"I'll be doing what I like," he said, adding that a medical degree seems more promising long-term. Stubbs has supported himself through school and enjoys helping people. But mostly, he wants to keep his wife and children happy, not moving around too much.

"You just have to be diligent and want to be a nurse," said Susan Watson, dean of Roseman's accelerated nursing program. She said nursing is meant for people who want to make a difference and Roseman's new program is geared toward self-starters and hard workers — much like Stubbs, who grew up on a farm.

Roseman University of Health Science's program offers remediation options to students who might struggle with the fast-paced learning, giving them extra attention if needed. Students can also opt to join the traditional program if they want or need to take it slower.

Roseman's traditional nursing program requires about 18 months and includes lots of classroom instruction, but so far, it boasts a nearly 100 percent pass rate for the national licensing exams required to become a nurse in the United States and Canada.

Watson said job placement rates for Roseman's graduates also surpass national averages, with about 65 percent working in nursing six months after graduation.

"I don't think we're flooding Utah with too many nurses," she said, adding that many students come from other states. "There's enough people who require services."

A number of factors, including a lack of nursing faculty, prevents schools all over the country from turning out enough nurses. While the profession saw an uptick following the recent recession, those nurses are again leaving the field, Watson said.

A demand for nurses continues to rise in Utah, with an estimated 31 percent increase in the state projected until 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Prospective nursing students in Utah have a number of options to choose from, including various levels of attainment, from practical nursing programs at applied technology colleges throughout the state, to baccalaureate education from eight different public and private colleges and universities.

And Roseman, a nonprofit, accredited private university operating in Utah since 2009, isn't the only local institution to offer an accelerated program. But being a private school, students can expect to pay a premium for their education.

Stubbs said the $60,000 price tag at Roseman is a lot to take on, especially for his small family just starting out. But he anticipates getting into his career much more quickly with the accelerated program, and he plans to focus almost all of his time on studying and getting good grades.

"If I'm going to pay this much for a program, I'm going to do my best to do really well in the program," he said. "Bring it on."

Another reason Stubbs selected Roseman is that the institution promises graduates a straight-A report card, ensuring competency along the way. It has also installed high-fidelity mannequins to help with simulation training, which Watson said is comparable to training in clinical settings.

"I'm going to work hard no matter what I do, I might as well do what I love," he said.

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Unlike other nursing programs, previous experience in health care or an existing bachelor's degree is not required for acceptance at Roseman, as long as certain prerequisites and credit hour requirements are met. The application process includes in-person interviews and enrollment begins with on-campus orientation, though the accelerated students do most of their studies at home.

But all students, Watson said, must come ready and willing to serve others.

"It's hard to teach compassion and caring if that's not an integral value that comes naturally," she said. "Nursing is not just emptying bed pans any more. I tell students that I expect they'll be doing things that haven't even been thought of yet."

For more information, visit acceleratednursing.roseman.edu.

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards