Rowan opens new School of Nursing & Health Professions

Program, formerly housed under a different college, has 1,250 students; aims to address industry shortages

In an effort to provide more visibility to a profession in growing need of more members, Rowan University announced Thursday that it has opened a new School of Nursing & Health Professions.

Dr. Peter Rattigan, a professor of health and exercise science and a Rowan faculty member since 2000, will serve as the school’s founding dean.

Nursing & Health Professions studies were previously a part of the College of Science and Mathematics. Rowan officials said the decision to create a new school was made July 1, but the decision to announce the move was held until a dean could be selected.

Dr. Peter Rattigan. (Rowan University)

Rowan has approximately 450 nursing students — 300 in master’s programs and 150 in the RN to BSN programs — currently enrolled. All of the nursing students attend classes online while working in their fields.

There are also approximately 800 students enrolled in the Department of Health & Exercise Science, studying to become health care professionals, such as nutritionists, athletic trainers and public health educators.

Provost Tony Lowman called Rattigan an outstanding educator and with a track record of leadership who will drive the much-needed new school forward.

“Rowan University is committed to preparing students for these much-needed jobs in health care,” Lowman said. “Given the national nursing shortage we’re seeing, it’s the right time for the university to invest in the health and well-being of our region by growing the School of Nursing & Health Professions.

“Peter will ensure Rowan continues its tradition of excellence, while giving more students access to a high-quality, affordable education.”

The School of Nursing & Health Professions is expected to increase the visibility of its nursing programs, lead to joint allied health professions offerings, provide oversight for internships and clinical affiliations, foster relationships with other colleges and the medical schools, and offer diverse educational pathways for students interested in nursing and health professions careers.

Nationally, the shortage of registered nurses is expected to worsen over the next decade, as more nurses — and nurse educators — retire or leave the workforce. And, as more hospitals strive to achieve Magnet Recognition by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the health care industry is seeing a growing demand for nurses with bachelor’s and graduate degrees, Rowan officials said.

The COVID-19 pandemic also has demonstrated the vital roles skilled health professionals serve in public health, health promotion, nutrition and exercise science.

Rattigan said he is ready to help Rowan fill the need.

“By becoming its own stand-alone school, the School of Nursing & Health Professions can focus on strategic program growth and preparing more students to fill these critically important jobs,” he said. “Even before the pandemic, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants because they just didn’t have the capacity to train them.

“More broadly, we know that health care and health professions careers comprise six of the Top 10 fastest-growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Rattigan said he feels nursing programs help address ethnic diversity issues in health care.

“We also know there’s a need for a more diverse workforce,” he said. “We’re looking forward to giving aspiring nurses and health professionals a quality education that’s also accessible, affordable and close to home.”