Connect SI: Collaborating for Regional Prosperity
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Southern Illinois Online Nursing Initiative (SIONI)
The SIONI initiative is currently on hiatus. Please check this page periodically for updated information and program status as it becomes available.

Program History

On May 1, 2009, the Illinois Board of Nursing approved the Southern Illinois Online Nursing Initiative (SIONI). SIONI, a part-time, hybrid-online Associate's degree nursing program, was developed to address the shortage of registered nurses (RNs) in southern Illinois. RNs provide bedside care directly to patients making them a critical component of the healthcare system. Unfortunately, there are many challenges affecting the supply of these caregivers, including the lack of faculty, the lack of clinical space, and one factor not typically considered — the out-migration of educated nurses from a region.
SIONI, the centerpiece of the region’s “Grow Your Own” strategy, was designed to provide an opportunity for working licensed practical nurses (LPNs) with strong ties to the region and interested in advancing their education to become registered nurses (RNs). The program was developed to benefit our community by targeting working nurses and helping graduates remain in local jobs rather than migrate to out-of-state employers — which has been an issue with the traditional classroom program.
Community colleges working in collaboration with the Local Workforce Investment Act (LWIA) providers reached out to local healthcare providers to identify working LPNs who were interested in participating in the program. LWIA providers negotiated agreements with local healthcare providers to pay a significant portion of staff training costs through incumbent worker training programs. Incumbent worker programs offered employers matching funds to lower the cost of providing education to their employees, which resulted in higher skilled and more valuable employees.
The SIONI program has been offered at Rend Lake College, Shawnee Community College, and Southeastern Illinois College. Participants were required to complete general education courses before beginning the SIONI program. In addition, laptops were provided to students for the duration of the program.
For additional information about the SIONI program, please contact Kathy Lively,
executive director at Connect SI, via email.

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Donna Mack, SIONI Graduate
SIONI Graduate
Celebrates Her Success!

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