SMWC to offer master’s degree in nursing

News | 03.08.2018

SMWC logoSaint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) announces the addition of a master’s degree in nursing to its graduate studies offerings starting this fall.

The Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN/FNP) degree program, anticipated to begin in August, is designed to prepare registered nurses for a career as a family nurse practitioner. The three-year, part time program requires 44 credit hours of coursework and 500 clinical hours. Students will attend classes on campus once a week.

Through this program, SMWC aims to do its part in bridging a gap existing in healthcare, particularly in rural areas of the United States. With the ability to evaluate patients, diagnose and write prescriptions, nurse practitioners are seen by professional healthcare organizations as an effective way to deliver a portion of primary care services and to address physician shortage.

Research shows that rural areas, particularly in the counties surrounding SMWC — Clay, Greene, Parke and Sullivan counties in Indiana —are lacking in full time care from nurse practitioners. “There’s a tremendous need for nurse practitioners in both urban and rural settings,” said Marcia Miller, Ph.D., chair of the nursing department. “Nurse practitioners will play a vital role in healthcare for U.S. citizens to have a more effective, more efficient and more cost-savings model.”

Employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow 31 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than average for all occupations. Growth will occur primarily because of an increased emphasis on preventive care and demand for healthcare services from the aging population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of family nurse practitioners work in primary care settings, ambulatory healthcare services, schools and clinics.

The MSN/FNP is a valuable addition to the SMWC nursing department. Through its bachelor of science in nursing degree, the department is educating the next generation of baccalaureate-prepared nurses and through its RN to BSN program, allows current registered nurses a path to completing their bachelor’s degrees. Nursing is the fastest growing major at SMWC. The bachelor’s degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Just like the undergraduate program, the master’s program aims to develop nurses well-versed in and empathetic to the plight of those in most need. Roberta “Bobbi” Delp, director of MSN, said the program’s emphasis on social justice — which in nursing means promotion of access, resources, quality healthcare and health policies — makes it unique.

“We carry on the values and the mission of this school with our focus on social justice,” Delp said. These values instilled in graduates are then put into action to benefit the community, she added.

Through this face-to-face program, students will learn from faculty with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This one-on-one mentorship with faculty is not often seen in other nursing programs, Delp said.

“Our focus as faculty is for students to become successful leaders and to become primary care providers. That’s going to be the difference that they see in this program at Saint Mary-of-the Woods College,” she said.

The MSN/FNP curriculum is designed according to the educational guidelines of the American Association of Colleges in Nursing and The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. The program is pending approval by the Higher Learning Commission. To apply, visit

SMWC, a private Catholic liberal arts college in Indiana, is home to four other graduate programs: Master of Leadership Development, Master of Arts in Art Therapy, Master of Arts in Music Therapy and Master of Healthcare Administration.