The School of Nursing offers the only regularly scheduled course work leading to eligibility for licensure as a Registered Nurse and for advanced nursing practice in Alaska.
The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program in nursing was established at Anchorage Community College in 1971. In 1987, following a major restructuring of the University of Alaska system of higher education, the AAS program became part of the College of Career and Vocational Education. Three years later, in 1991, the program became part of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Bachelor of Science (BS) program in nursing was initiated in 1973 at Alaska Methodist University (AMU) (later named Alaska Pacific University). In 1976, when financial difficulties forced the temporary closure of AMU, the nursing program was transferred to the Anchorage Senior College of the University of Alaska. Over the next several years, the Anchorage Senior College evolved into a comprehensive four-year university and was renamed the University of Alaska, Anchorage. In 1987 following a major restructuring of the University of Alaska system of higher education, the baccalaureate nursing program became part of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Master of Science (MS) program in nursing was initiated with funding from a federal grant in 1981; the first class graduated in 1983. Four specialty options are available: Family Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Community Health Nursing, Advanced Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, and Health Care Administration.In 1996, following a restructuring of the University of Alaska Anchorage, the nursing programs were consolidated into the School of Nursing within the College of Health, Education and Social Welfare. Further restructuring in 2002 resulted in the establishment of a separate College of Education with the School of Nursing remaining within the reformulated College of Health and Social Welfare.
In partnership with health facilities across Alaska, the School of Nursing undertook a major enrollment expansion in 2002. Within the AAS nursing program, the enrollment expansion efforts resulted in distance delivering the program to communities across the state. Initially the program was delivered to students in Fairbanks, although the number of delivery sites increased rapidly. In 2004, delivery sites were established in Bethel, Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan where new students were admitted every other year. In addition, admission to the Fairbanks delivery site changed from an every-other-year schedule to an annual schedule. Gradually additional sites were added and the program is now delivered to students residing in 13 communities across the State: Bethel, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Mat-Su, Nome, Sitka, and Valdez/Cordova.
Within the baccalaureate program, the enrollment expansion was accomplished by shifting the five-semester baccalaureate clinical major sequence from the traditional semester to the current trimester schedule; in addition, the number of students admitted each term was increased from 32 to 40 students. This resulted in an increase in the number of annual admissions to 120 per year, with students graduating in May, August, and December of each year.
No specific efforts were implemented to increase enrollments in either the baccalaureate completion option for Registered Nurses or the graduate program. However, in an effort to ensure that those programs are available to students across the State, all required nursing courses were adapted to distance delivery, making it possible to complete the program from any location in Alaska where a reliable Internet connection is available. At the same time, in recognition of the need for greatly increased numbers of nursing faculty, a new Nurse Educator specialty at the graduate level was initiated in 2004. Also in an effort to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty committed to living and remaining in Alaska, from 2004-2006 the School of Nursing served as a delivery site for the nursing PhD program offered by Oregon Health Sciences University.
Today the School of Nursing continued to offer the AAS program on site in Anchorage and by distance to students residing in nine other communities across Alaska and to admit students to the BS program in Anchorage three times each year (January, May, and September). In addition, nurses licensed in Alaska who hold either a diploma or AAS in nursing may complete nursing requirements via distance while completing non-nursing course requirements in their home communities. Graduate students are admitted to one of three specialty track options – Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, or Nurse Educator – during the Fall term, also taking advantage of distance technology to complete their studies in their home communities.