SCRANTON — Lackawanna College will launch the only two-year registered nurse program in Lackawanna County to help address a regional nursing shortage.

The new associate of science degree in nursing program will begin in fall 2020, with a goal of 25 students in the initial class.

“It’s an exciting opportunity, and it’s much needed for the region,” college President Mark Volk said at Thursday’s announcement.

The program will take half the time of a traditional bachelor’s degree in nursing and will prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Examination-RN and directly enter the workforce.Graduates could then enroll in the college’s online RN-to-BSN program, a program for nurses who are practitioners but want extra training and a bachelor’s degree.

“This has been a dream for many years,” Volk said. “Now, we’re finally able to bring it to fruition.”

The college will use a $500,000 grant from the Moses Taylor Foundation to outfit a state-of-the-art simulation skills lab that students in the program will use. With the use of four mannequins, students will receive training in multiple scenarios.

“Lackawanna College students are from our community, and they stay in our community,” said LaTida Smith, president and CEO of the Moses Taylor Foundation. “The college has a proven track record of providing affordable, quality education that is accessible to local residents and addresses immediate needs in the local healthcare workforce.”

The need for RNs in Lackawanna County will increase 15.5% between 2014 and 2024, much higher than most occupations,according to the college.

Judith Williams, Ph.D., director of the nursing program, said that as a working nurse, she knows Lackawanna graduates can fill a vital role in the region.

Tuition has not been set, but could be slightly higher than other programs at the college, Volk said. Tuition for the 2019-20 school year is $7,650 per semester.