(Mont Alto) -- Penn State is changing the way it educates some of its nursing students.
The five camuses that offer an associates degree program will transition to a bachelor's degree in the fall of 2014.
The start of that semester will also be the last opportunity for students to enroll in the current two-year program.
Carranda Barkdoll coordinates the nursing program at the Mont Alto Campus in Franklin County.
She says the changes come after the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine recommended some goals for the nation's nurses by 2020.
"80 percent of those nurses should be bachelor's prepared," Barkdoll explains of the recommendations. "The other 20 percent could be a mix of diploma or associate's degree nurses. They see that as an important indicator for better patient outcomes, to have bachelor's-prepared nurses at the bedside," she says.
Barkdoll says having a bachelor's degree will also make graduates more competitive and earn higher wages.
The change will not affect a different Penn State program where registered nurses with some training study to earn bachelor's degrees.
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