INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana is one of many states battling a nursing shortage and Marian University hopes their accelerated degree program can help hospitals fill in some of those major staffing gaps.
The program is for people who are interested in nursing and want to make a career transition without starting over.
Joe Witchger, an Indianapolis native, is doing just that, as he is right in the middle of his academic career with Marian University as a nursing student. For Witchger, nursing was not always in his plan.
"I didn't even have it in the back of my head until four years ago," explains Witchger.
After graduating from Cathedral High School, Witchger went to the University of Dayton to study engineering. It took him one semester to realize that was not for him.
The freshman at the time left school and went home, just in time to learn his longtime friend was in need of help.
Witchger's friend, Jay, broke his neck in a diving accident leaving him paralyzed and about to head to Duke. Witchger signed on to help him for a semester.
"I really enjoyed it, and I realized that this could be a calling for me," says Witchger. "I had that sense of fulfillment that I think most people look for in a job."
Witchger stayed by his friend's side at Duke for all four years, then took on the call to be a nurse through Marian University's nursing programs. He found the Accelerated BSN program was the best fit for him.
"It is a hybrid program, with an online program with hands-on skills, and clinical rotations within the St. Vincent hospital network," explains Deb Downard, the Director of Community and Corporate Relations for Marian University ABSN Program.
The Accelerated BSN is an opportunity for those who want to take on a career in nursing or make a career change, in only a 16-month accelerated program.
It is just one way to bring more nurses to the healthcare industry, and for those who always felt the need to serve and work in this field.
"Nursing is not just a job for women, and it's not a job just for men," says Witchger, who will be done with his program in the Spring of 2019. "It is a job for people who really care for other people and want to reach out to help in any way that they can."
"Registered Nurse" ranks number one in Indiana for the most in-demand occupation, with employment of registered nurses expected to grow nearly 19-percent over the next decade, that's according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, the median national annual salary for registered nurses is about $68,000.
Marian University and St. Vincent invites anyone interested in the nursing field to join them this Wednesday, August 29th, at the Schaefer Conference Rooms at St. Vincent located at 2001 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis. The fifth annual event will be held from 4 pm to 7 pm. Nurses, Marian University admissions reps, faculty, and staff will be on hand to answer any questions and inquiries.