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UTHSC College of Nursing and UT Southern Collaborate to Offer Joint BSN Program

UT Southern, above, and UTHSC are joining forces for a joint nursing program to offer training and learning experiences for future nurses who will be working in rural and urban Tennessee communities.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) has approved a proposal for a joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program operated by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing and the UT Southern Jeanette M. Travis School of Nursing and Health Sciences. The proposal was approved at THEC’s Aug. 17 meeting. The joint program will welcome its first cohort in Fall 2024 in Pulaski, Tennessee.

Dean Wendy Likes

UT Southern in Giles County established a school of nursing in 2006. It offers the only BSN program in the 13-county area of southern Middle Tennessee, where the school is located. The former Martin Methodist University, originally established in 1870 as Martin Female College, joined the University of Tennessee System in 2021. Ten students graduated in the BSN program from UT Southern in 2023 achieving a 100% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate for the second consecutive year. Tracing its history to 1898, the UTHSC College of Nursing was the first College of Nursing in Tennessee. In fiscal year 2023, 156 students earned nursing degrees at UTHSC across all programs.

“This Joint BSN program is an exemplar of the UT System’s Be One UT values and how we can work together and build on the strengths of each of our programs,” said UTHSC College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP. “We are excited that our students will have exposure to each other in such unique environments – rural and urban. We look forward to growing the pipeline of nursing graduates to serve communities across Tennessee.”

Dr. Michelle Decker, the UT Southern Chair of the Jeanette M. Travis Nursing School, added that “this groundbreaking joint program will be able to offer unique health care training and learning experiences for the future nurses who will be working in both rural and urban Tennessee communities.”

Dr. Michelle Decker

The proposed Joint BSN Program will use a mixture of face-to-face, hybrid, and asynchronous learning in its curriculum. Students will be exposed to faculty teaching across campuses. Students must complete at least 30 of the needed 60 credit hours through direct instruction offered by UT Southern in order to earn the Joint BSN.

The Joint BSN opens the door to more robust resources for the UT Southern students. These resources include access to the UTHSC library and the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation, a 45,000-square-foot stand-alone building for health care simulation and interprofessional education. The collaboration will also make a more diverse variety of faculty expertise available to students in the Joint BSN. In addition, this joint program will provide a unique exposure for urban students to rural health care and for rural students to urban health care, enriching the educational experience and portfolio of the graduating nurses.

Students in the new program will complete their clinical hours at clinical sites currently used by UT Southern. By maintaining nursing students at UT Southern, the university can mitigate the nursing shortage endemic to rural areas. Applications for the Joint BSN are open in the NursingCAS system on the UTHSC College of Nursing website.

The UTHSC College of Nursing has the most highly ranked BSN program in Tennessee, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s list of undergraduate nursing programs in its Best Colleges 2024 list. In fiscal year 2022, 104 BSN students graduated from UTHSC.