NEW ORLEANS — Two Louisiana schools are working together to increase the number of nurses with bachelor's degrees and get them working sooner.

LSU Health New Orleans' new Early Admission Registered Nurse program will let students enroll in a bachelor's degree program while still in nursing school at Delgado Community College.

"This agreement establishes a pipeline to address the shortage of qualified nurses for our state," Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor of LSU Health New Orleans, said in a news release Friday.

To get in, students must have completed all prerequisites and second-semester courses in Delgado's Charity School of Nursing with at least a 2.8 grade-point average. They also must meet residency requirements at both schools to qualify for in-state tuition.

Delgado nursing students should go through the Dean's Office for screening. LSU will advise students referred by Delgado about the program's details.

Once accepted applicants get their associate's degree in nursing from Delgado, they'll have to request a transfer to an LSU program for registered nurses who are working toward a bachelor's degree, called the RN to BSN Program.

The deadline is July 1 for students who want to enroll in fall 2018, and students are encouraged to begin the screening process early.

Applicants must be familiar with admissions criteria and processes that are posted online for both institutions at http://lsuh.sc/nr?a=237 and http://lsuh.sc/nr?a=238.

Joan Y. Davis, Chancellor of Delgado Community College, said, "This new agreement strengthens an already strong and lasting partnership" between the schools.

A national report in 2010 for the Institute of Medicine set a goal of having nurses with bachelor's degrees make up 80 percent of the total, up from 50 percent, by 2020.

"Care within the hospital continues to grow more complex, with nurses having to make critical decisions associated with care for sicker, frailer patients and having to use more sophisticated, life-saving technology coupled with information management systems that require skills in analysis and synthesis. Care outside the hospital is becoming more complex as well," it stated.