The College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center has embarked on a unique partnership that will help address the shortage of nursing graduates in the Mid-South.
The UTHSC College of Nursing Partnership Enrollment Programs (PEPs) will allow enrolled students at LeMoyne-Owen College and Rhodes College who meet PEP requirements the opportunity to participate in the program. This affords the student guaranteed full admission to the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program at UTHSC. The program will also allow students who meet additional requirements in the PEPs to participate in a bridge Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD program.
“There is a tremendous need for BSN-prepared nurses on a local, regional, and national basis,” said Shelley Hawkins, PhD, APRN-BC, FAANP, Professor and Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the UTHSC College of Nursing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortage of more than 1 million registered nurses by 2022. To counteract this shortage, the National Academy of Medicine, an advisor to the national and international community on critical health issues, has issued a mandate to prepare a nursing workforce of 80 percent BSN-prepared nurses by 2020.
“Ultimately, these partnerships will help in preparing more BSN-prepared nurses and those with terminal degrees in nursing,” Hawkins said. “A growing number of the Memphis-based health care systems prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses, as opposed to those with associate or diploma degrees.”
In fact, some regional health care systems will hire only BSN-prepared nurses, according to Hawkins. An ever-increasing evidence base supports differences in patient care and outcomes when BSN-prepared nurses are leading health care for patients, because these nurses are prepared with strong clinical reasoning skills acquired and developed through completion of a BSN program.
LeMoyne-Owen College, which has roughly 850 students, hopes to have about a half-dozen to a dozen students participate in the program during the first year, according to Charlie Folsom, MS, director of Corporate Partnerships and Adult Education at LeMoyne-Owen College. Folsom said that number could represent about 20 percent of the entering fall 2019 class for the UTHSC College of Nursing.
The contract for LeMoyne-Owen College will be effective July 1, 2018. The contract for Rhodes College was effective May 1, 2017. The UTHSC College of Nursing Partnership Enrollment Programs also include Southwest Tennessee Community College and Dyersburg State Community College. This provides opportunities for associate and diploma-prepared nurses to earn the BSN degree. UTHSC initiated the partnership with all four colleges.
“This is a very important development from the standpoint of LeMoyne-Owen College,” Folsom said. “It provides an opportunity for incoming students who are interested in going to an HBCU and a smaller liberal arts college, who want that smaller environment, but didn’t have the option to go into nursing— now they can with this partnership. This agreement creates a seamless pathway for students to achieve their career goals.”
The program will offer participants many benefits, including the regional out-of-state tuition discount; locked-in degree requirements at the time of acceptance into the partnership enrollment program; an admission fee waiver; a guaranteed enrollment deposit waiver; a voucher for previously paid fees for the Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS); access to UTHSC’s Distinguished Visiting Professor lectureships, free group tutoring, and select library resources.
Another resource available to students in the UTHSC College of Nursing Partnership Enrollment Programs is academic advising. Once the student is approved to participate, their undergraduate course of study, including any future changes, will be reviewed by UTHSC College of Nursing faculty advisors to ensure a seamless transition into the program. Academic advising will be available by UTHSC and either LeMoyne-Owen or Rhodes throughout the students’ participation in the program.
Prior to admission to the UTHSC College of Nursing BSN Program, students are required to successfully complete a baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 3.0 (2.6 for science prerequisites) and be in good academic standing.
In addition, participants have the opportunity to observe nursing and clinical experiences typically reserved for enrolled UTHSC students, including access to the new $39.7 million Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation, which allow nursing students to interact with other disciplines, mirroring their work environment upon graduation.
“That’s why this agreement is crucial,” Folsom said. “It provides campus staff and professors a guided pathway and helps to inform students on the front end, that if they are coming up to their second year or even if they are high school seniors, and they say ‘I want to go to the University of Tennessee eventually, but which college can I attend now in order to be prepared?’ This program says you can come to LeMoyne-Owen College and adequately be prepared to guarantee enrollment at UTHSC.”