The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) College of Nursing has added three colleges to its Partnership Enrollment Programs (PEP), bringing the total to eight colleges in the Mid-South and New Orleans. This increases opportunities for students from a variety of educational backgrounds to continue their baccalaureate and advanced nursing degrees at UTHSC.
The new additions to the college’s PEPs include Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee; UT-Southern in Pulaski, Tennessee; and New Orleans-based Dillard University.
The UTHSC College of Nursing offers two pathways to the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree: a 12-month, accelerated BSN for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in another area of study, and a four-semester, traditional BSN for students who have earned a designated associate degree from another college.
Students are guaranteed admission to the traditional BSN at UTHSC if they earn a 3.0 grade-point average (GPA), a designated associate degree, and science prerequisites at one of these colleges: Lane College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and LeMoyne-Owen College.
Students are guaranteed admission to the accelerated BSN at UTHSC if they earn a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree and complete science prerequisites at one of these colleges: Rhodes College, the University of the South, LeMoyne-Owen College, Lane College, and UT-Southern. The UT Southern PEP applies to two specific degree programs: biology and public health education.
The increase in partnerships is a response to the nursing shortage in Tennessee, said Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSC, APRN-BC, FAANP. “In 2021, Tennessee had a shortage of nearly 16,000 nurses needed to keep the state’s quality of health care comparable with national averages. These partnership programs are critical to creating streamlined approaches for individuals to enter the nursing profession to mitigate this dire shortage. We are thrilled to partner with these outstanding educational institutions in this mission.”
Dillard is the only PEP that applies strictly to advanced nursing degrees, including the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the PhD in Nursing Science. Graduates of Dillard who earn either the BSN or the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) are guaranteed admission to either UTHSC’s PhD in Nursing Science or specific DNP programs if they meet the requirements of the partnership agreement. Both Lane and Dillard are historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which increases the number of UTHSC PEPs with HBCUs to three.
“Evidence continues to support that elevating the education of nurses improves health outcomes,” said Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Charleen C. McNeill, PhD, MSN, RN. “We are committed to improving the health of Tennesseans and beyond through our partnership enrollment programs to create a pathway for seamless academic progression. Our partnerships will facilitate this progression and ensure the face of the nursing workforce reflects that of the rich, diverse society in which we live.“
Lacey Ballard came to the UTHSC College of Nursing through the PEP with Rhodes College. She earned her BSN in 12 months and went to work for Regional One Health in high-risk labor and delivery.
The PEP was important to her career path, she said. “The Partnership Enrollment Program took away a lot of the stress I felt about the next stage of my life and provided an incentive to finish college strong,” she said. Ballard is currently enrolled in the UTHSC College of Nursing’s DNP in Nurse-Midwifery, from which she will graduate in May, 2024.
Details about each of the college’s Partnership Enrollment Programs can be found here.