UVM Medical Center

Supporting Nurses, Improving Patient Care

More than 90 UVM Medical Center nurses receive full tuition to complete Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.


Burlington, VT – During Nurses Week, UVM Medical Center celebrates all of our nursing staff, and recognizes the hard work of more than 90 Registered Nurses (RNs) who have enrolled to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), with full tuition support from the hospital.

Through a unique pilot program with Western Governor’s University (WGU), UVM Medical Center is paying full tuition and fees for eligible nurses to complete their BSN. The competency-based program is designed to account for nurses’ life experience and knowledge, so they can efficiently move through the program while working or raising families. The UVM Medical Center also continues to offer a tuition benefit program that supports nurses who attend Vermont nursing programs, like the UVM College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

“We’re excited about this opportunity with WGU because it was created based on feedback from our nurses on the facilitators and barriers to advancing their education. Through this program we are making a significant investment in our nursing staff while also improving patient care,” said Kate FitzPatrick, Chief Nursing Officer at the UVM Medical Center. “As it becomes the national standard for nurses to hold a BSN, it’s more important than ever for our own nurses – many of whom have spent years building expertise and impacting care for patients and their families here at the UVM Medical Center – to have opportunities for growth.”

In 2010, an Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing recommended that the profession seek to have 80 percent of RNs hold a BSN by 2020. This is also a requirement for nurse leaders at hospitals that have earned Magnet status, which the UVM Medical Center is actively pursuing.

Nurses who have completed the program are already seeing opportunities for advancement.

“I never could have imagined after 20 years as a nurse that the leap to going back to school would present such amazing opportunities for me in such a short amount of time,” said Laura Dattilio, RN, BSN, CPN, who is currently serving as interim assistant nurse manager in Pediatrics at the UVM Children’s Hospital. “You just never know what life has in store for you.”

“This was the perfect school for my lifestyle, as a married, working mom of two children,” said Jaime Wells, BSN, RN. “Because their competency-based education model is self-paced, it was nice to be able to apply knowledge and skills that I have learned over the last 11 years to complete the BSN program in a shorter time than I had expected, to learn new things and improve my practice.”

The WGU program is one aspect of UVM Medical Center’s career advancement support. Some nursing staff are eligible for tuition assistance; those in this program are eligible for full tuition and fees; and some in nursing leadership are able to attend other schools with a different academic progression.  We are actively exploring programs similar to the WGU pilot with our Vermont academic institutions.

In the past year, 86 clinical nurses and 6 nurse managers have enrolled in the program. As of this writing, nurses can enroll in the program until September 2018.  

“WGU believes deeply in the power of collaboration with health care organizations to create meaningful, relevant and high-value education,” said Dr. Jan Jones-Schenk, Academic Vice President, College of Health Professions at Western Governors University.

About The University of Vermont Medical Center

The University of Vermont Medical Center  is a 447-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately one million residents in Vermont and northern New York.  Together with our partners at the UVM Larner College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center.  The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. 

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high-quality academic medicine to every community we serve.  Our partners are:

For more information visit www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenter or visit our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog sites at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterSocialMedia.

About Western Governors University

Western Governors University pioneered competency-based education, which measures learning rather than time spent in class. This allows health professionals to earn career-enhancing degrees while meeting work and family obligations. Students complete their programs by studying on schedules that fit their lives, advancing as soon as they demonstrated that they have mastered course materials. Many students are able to apply prior learning and work experience to help them accelerate their time to degree, saving both time and money.

The National League for Nursing has named WGU’s College of Health Professions as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education for creating environments that enhance student learning and professional development. Designed to meet the needs of working nurses, WGU’s BSN, MSN and MBA programs provide the knowledge, skills and credentials employers seek.