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UTHSC College of Nursing Launches Traditional BSN Program

Accelerated BSN students learn about pediatric care at the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation on the Memphis campus prior to the pandemic. Students in the college’s new, traditional program will also use this state-of-the-art facility.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing is opening a traditional, two-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program as a complement to its existing 12-month, accelerated BSN program.

The traditional BSN will be geared to students who have completed 60 hours of prerequisite courses at a community college or other college and want to complete a nursing degree in a four-semester format within a dynamic health science center. The pace of the new program is similar to a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree, while the college’s accelerated BSN is an intense 12-month program for students who already have earned a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

The registered nurse (RN) workforce is expected to grow from 3 million to 3.3 million between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A shortage of nurses is expected to spread across the nation between 2016 and 2030, according to the U.S. Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast: A Revisit.

Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, dean of the UTHSC College of Nursing, said adding the traditional BSN program to the college’s offerings is an important way to offset any local nursing shortages. “The pandemic has exacerbated the nursing shortage, and we recognize a need to augment our nursing workforce to take care of the community,” she said. “The traditional program opens the door to a different kind of applicant and allows us to broaden the pool of nursing students and educate more nurses.”

The college’s 12-month accelerated BSN (ABSN) program is open to students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and commit to a full-time, 12-month, intense program that will prepare them to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

The first graduates of UTHSC’s ABSN program achieved a 100% first-time pass-rate on the NCLEX. The accelerated program opens applications twice a year, with cohorts beginning in August and January. The traditional program also prepares students to take the NCLEX, but the curriculum follows a less intensive format with the summer off between the first two terms and the last two terms.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), American Nurses Association (ANA) and other leading nursing organizations recognize the BSN degree as the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice. While a nursing graduate can begin practice as an RN with an associate degree or a hospital diploma, the BSN degree is essential for nurses seeking to move up the career ladder and provide a higher level of quality care.

Applications for the new traditional program will open August 15, 2021, and the first traditional BSN class will begin in Fall 2022. Additional information about the program and prerequisites can be found on the website.

The College of Nursing also offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with eight specific DNP concentrations. In addition, three dual DNP concentrations are available, including a program focusing on pediatric primary care and pediatric acute care. The DNP is designed for those seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the UTHSC College of Nursing DNP program 26th in the country.