LAFAYETTE – St. Elizabeth School of Nursing officials have signed an education partnership agreement with the University of Saint Francis (USF) in Fort Wayne, Ind. The partnership allows for the continuation of its cooperative nursing program that currently serves 164 students. Graduates will seamlessly receive a diploma in nursing from the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from the University of Saint Francis. St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, a division of Franciscan Health Lafayette, and Saint Joseph’s College of Rensselaer, Ind., will end its comparable arrangement after the May 2017 graduation.
“We are pleased to announce that students will be able to continue their studies on schedule,” said Michelle L. Gerrety, Ed.D, MSN, R.N., administrative director of academic services and director of the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing. “USF was a natural choice because of their high academic quality, focus on healthcare programs and Catholic Franciscan tradition.” St. Elizabeth School of Nursing and USF are sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration of Mishawaka, Ind.
University President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, shared another connection: “Our university was founded more than 125 years ago in Lafayette; this new partnership represents a journey home for us.” USF originated in 1890 when the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, who had been practicing as nurses and educators, opened a school. The school became known as St. Francis College and was located at the now St. Elizabeth School of Nursing building on the Franciscan Health Lafayette Central campus. St. Francis College moved to Fort Wayne in 1944. The college name changed to the University of Saint Francis in 1998. “Clearly the schools’ histories are very closely tied,” added Kriss.
Approximately half of the university’s students are pursuing healthcare-related degrees. The university announced in February that it is beginning a terminal degree program in nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), beginning in the fall of 2017. “We warmly welcome the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing students to our university and look forward to a long and productive partnership with St. Elizabeth,” said Dr. Andrew Prall, USF vice president for academic affairs. “The cooperative agreement is contingent upon approval by state, regional and national accrediting bodies. We are very confident that we will receive all of the necessary approvals.”