The push to prepare more nurses to fill a growing shortage in Iowa is bringing an educational collaboration between two private colleges in Des Moines.

A partnership between Drake University and Mercy College of Health Sciences will enable students to earn two bachelor degrees in four years. Nancy Kertz, dean of Mercy’s School of Nursing, says the accelerated program will help fill a significant number of job openings in nursing.

Kertz says, “The opportunity of increasing the number of nurses into the Des Moines and Iowa community is so important during this critical nursing shortage.” Students in the program will come away with a BS degree in Health Sciences from Drake and a B.S. in Nursing from Mercy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the nursing profession is growing by 15% a year.

Kertz says the goal is to quickly start tackling the shortage of nurses in Iowa, “An accelerated program allows us to produce high-quality registered nurses for not only the Des Moines area, but the rural areas of Iowa.”

Drake is entering a similar arrangement with Allen College in Waterloo. Des Moines Area Community College has agreements with the University of Iowa, Iowa Wesleyan and Iowa State University aimed at educating more nurses.

(Thanks to Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio)