JWU opens renovated facilities for accelerated nursing program

MARIE BERNARDO-SOUSA, center, president of the Providence campus of Johnson & Wales University, talks with two nursing students as they cradle "high-fidelity" infant mannequins that simulate medical scenarios. They attended the dedication of renovated space for the university's accelerated nursing program on Aug. 31. / COURTESY JOHNSON & WALES UNIVERSITY/MIKE COHEA

PROVIDENCE – Johnson & Wales University dedicated a newly renovated space that houses the university’s accelerated nursing program on Aug. 31, just as the first group of students commenced their studies. 

The new space, located in Johnson Hall on the downtown campus, includes classroom space and state-of-the-art simulation labs featuring “high-fidelity” mannequins that can simulate real-life medical scenarios. 

“When we made the decision to pursue a nursing program, we knew we had to provide our students with top-of-the-line facilities and equipment to meet our high standard of academic excellence,” said Marie Bernardo-Sousa, Providence campus president. 

Johnson & Wales University launched its accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in October 2022, after receiving approval from the R.I. Board of Nursing Registration & Nursing Education. The accelerated, four-semester program is intended to be a secondary degree program for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree. The first cohort of students began their studies this week. 

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“It is so wonderful to finally have our students here on campus, and to dedicate this new space,” said Suzan Menihan, JWU’s chief nursing officer and the head of the new program. “We set out to create this program in part to fill a dire need in the health care industry by providing quality nursing education on an accelerated timeline that prepares students with the skills needed to enter the field in less than half the time of a traditional degree path.” 

At the dedication ceremony on Aug. 31, members of the university’s senior leadership team cut the “ribbon” – an ACE bandage strung between two IV poles, cut with surgical scissors. Those leaders included Chancellor Mim L. Runey; Vice Chancellor of Academic Administration Sandra Affenito; Provost Richard Wiscott; Bernardo-Sousa; Menihan; and Maria Ducharme, president of The Miriam Hospital and a member of JWU’s board of trustees. 

Nursing students will be required to complete nutrition course work, leveraging the university’s culinary strength and history to provide a full-body approach to wellness. 

JWU said the new degree program further solidifies its commitment to health care education. 

In 2014, the university became the first in the state to offer a physician assistant studies master’s degree program, and in May graduated the first class of the entry-level occupational therapy doctorate program, also the first of its kind in the state.   

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