Area Colleges Team Up to Take on Nursing Shortage

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and NWTC Launch NURSE 1-2-1 Degree Program

Green Bay, Wis. — With states like Wisconsin facing a shortage in qualified nurses to serve patients, leaders at two colleges in Northeast Wisconsin are tackling the issue with a sense of community urgency and student affordability in mind, developing an inventive new nursing education model that will welcome its first class in September.

NURSE 1-2-1, a new collaborative program developed by UW‑Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) is launching this fall with an initial class of 24 students. The program brings together the region’s best nursing educators and teaching healthcare technologies to create a single, cost-effective nursing program to meet growing healthcare demands, both in the numbers entering the profession and the depth of their nursing education.

“This program represents a new way of thinking about how to address a community issue like the nursing shortage both here in Wisconsin and nationwide,” said Susan Gallagher-Lepak, Dean of UW‑Green Bay’s College of Health, Education and Social Welfare and one of the program’s creators. “Both institutions are excited about how quickly we’ve been able to mobilize this solution and what it means for the nursing workforce and healthcare overall in our region.”

Under the program, nursing students attend classes for Year 1 at UW‑Green Bay, Years 2 and 3 at NWTC (obtaining an Associate Degree in Nursing in the process) and return to classes at UWGB during Year 4 to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The result: A traditional campus-like college experience that allows students the flexibility to enter the workforce and begin caring for patients and earning an income while finishing their degree on campus or online in Year 4.

According to NWTC Dean and fellow NURSE 1-2-1 program creator Kay Tupala, the collaboration between NWTC and UW‑Green Bay is good for students, regional healthcare, community quality of life and the two colleges.NURSE 1-2-1 is a unique pathway for students pursuing a BSN degree. Students receiving their BSN through the program can expect to invest 50% less in tuition than their peers attending a traditional four-year BSN program. We’re bringing together teaching excellence and affordability in a way that hasn’t been done before and it’s very exciting for students and the community.”

Gallagher-Lepak and Tupala agree that leveraging the best from both campuses is smart educational planning. “The program brings together UW‑Green Bay and NWTC’s experienced nursing educators and state of the art technology, including human patient simulators, to create a world-class student experience,” Tupala noted.

The Fall 2016 NURSE 1-2-1 class is comprised of students from across the state of Wisconsin as well as out-of-state students, from Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and California.

Nationally and in Wisconsin, the nursing shortage (predicted to reach 20,000 nationally by 2035) is happening at the same time that the Institute of Medicine has recommended increasing the level of workforce preparedness for nurses. “In recent years, the Institute has been recommending an 80 percent BSN-prepared workforce in nursing across the U.S., given research that shows healthcare outcomes for patients improve when the nursing workforce is educated at the BSN level,” noted Gallagher-Lepak. “Healthcare organizations are following the Institute’s guidance and are looking to hire more nursing graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Put simply, we need more BSNs.” In 2013 the Health Resources Services Association reported that 55 percent of all RNs in the U.S. held a baccalaureate in nursing degree or higher.

Students interested in applying for the NURSE 1-2-1 Program can access website information at, phone (920) 465-2111 or e-mail Applications to UW‑Green Bay for Fall 2017 can be submitted starting September 1, 2016. Following acceptance to UW‑Green Bay, a NURSE 1-2-1 Program Intention form must be submitted between September 15 and October 30, 2016.

Gallagher-Lepak and Tupala note that NURSE 1-2-1 is not a common model, but could soon become a national model for obtaining a nursing degree, because of its cost effectiveness and utility of all available resources. The planning team from both organizations included UW‑Green Bay’s Susan Gallagher-Lepak, Jennifer Schwahn, and Jan Malchow and NWTC’s Kay Tupala, Brian Krogh, and Katie Gilson.

About the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit


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