Orbis Education and Mercer University have entered into an agreement to expand the school’s nursing program. The partners will launch an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program that offers qualified students in the Atlanta area a new, faster path into the high-demand nursing profession.

“Mercer has a long history of educating nurses,” said Steve Hodownes, chief executive officer at Orbis Education. “We are very excited to be collaborating with this premier nursing school to help them expand their highly respected program.”

With the first class start scheduled for May 2019, Mercer’s ABSN program will enable students to leverage their existing non-nursing bachelor’s degrees to earn a BSN in as few as 12 months. Students enrolled in the program will learn through a combination of online coursework, onsite experience at a state-of-the-art lab facility to be developed and funded by Orbis, and clinical rotations at top area hospitals.

This new program comes at a time when the nationwide nursing shortage is expected to hit critical levels over the next decade. It is projected Georgia alone will need an additional 13,510 registered nurses by 2026 in order to keep up with the demands of a rapidly growing population. In fact, demand for nurses is so great in the area that Forbes recently listed Atlanta as one of 15 great cities for nurses, citing demand and pay as key factors.

“It is our duty to do everything we can as educators to keep up with the demand by providing excellent nursing education options like our new Accelerated BSN program in Atlanta,” says Dr. Linda Streit, dean of nursing for Mercer University. “We are dedicated to developing knowledgeable, ethical, caring and compassionate nurses who are ready to become the next generation of highly qualified practicing nurse leaders in Georgia and across the nation.”

Mercer’s ABSN program in Atlanta will offer three start dates each year.