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VOL. 11 | NO. 20 | Saturday, May 19, 2018

UTHSC, LeMoyne-Owen Partner To Help Students Earn Nursing Degrees

By Michael Waddell

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With an expected nursing shortage of more than 1 million registered nurses by 2022, local colleges like the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and LeMoyne-Owen College are partnering to help students along the career pathway.

Dr. Ralph Calhoun, special assistant to the president for academic administration at LeMoyne-Owen College, and Dr. Wendy Likes, dean of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing, sign a partnership enrollment program agreement, surrounded by reps from both institutions. (Submitted)

A recently announced enrollment program between UTHSC’s College of Nursing and LeMoyne-Owen guarantees admission of qualified LeMoyne-Owen graduates into the College of Nursing’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“This partnership basically provides a pathway and establishes a relationship for the students,” said Charlie Folsom Jr., director of the Career Pathways Initiative at LeMoyne-Owen.

To counteract the expected shortage, the National Academy of Medicine, an adviser to the national and international community on critical health issues, is pushing the need for more nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. The organization has issued a mandate to create a nursing workforce of 80 percent BSN-prepared nurses by 2020.

“There is a tremendous need for BSN-prepared nurses on a local, regional, and national basis,” said Dr. Shelley Hawkins, professor and UTHSC College of Nursing executive associate dean of academic affairs. “Ultimately, these partnerships will help in preparing more BSN-prepared nurses and those with terminal degrees in nursing.”

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, according to Hawkins.

Folsom is hoping to see increased diversity result from the new partnership, which was facilitated by his previous ties to UTHSC.

“Nursing in particular has a good diversity, but not necessarily the rest of the college,” said Folsom, who formerly worked in recruitment and programming for UTHSC in Knoxville trying to get better opportunities for students. Later, he handled recruitment and retention at the UTHSC College of Nursing here in Memphis. “So I wanted to start with the College of Nursing while I was employed there to provide more opportunities for students because I didn’t see a large number of students coming from HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities).”

A natural starting point was a partnership with LeMoyne-Owen since its campus was only five miles away. Then along the way, Folsom switched jobs, moving from UTHSC to LeMoyne-Owen.

“I had this idea over at UTHSC that I didn’t want to die,” Folsom said. “So it involved me reaching out from UT to LeMoyne-Owen, and then me reaching back over to UT from LeMoyne.”

LeMoyne-Owen students who want to take part in the new program 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.

Program participants get several benefits, including a regional out-of-state tuition discount; an admission fee waiver; a guaranteed enrollment deposit waiver; a voucher for previously paid fees for the Nursing’s Centralized Application Service; and access to UTHSC’s Distinguished Visiting Professor lectureships, free group tutoring and select library resources.

“The big thing, especially for our students here in Memphis who are impoverished, is that short-sightedness comes into play when they have a false realization that college is too expensive,” Folsom said. “With this program, students can get additional funding to pursue their BSN and come out with little or no student debt.”

They will also get a first look at volunteer and internship opportunities at UTHSC, and they benefit from additional advising from UTHSC staff. Academic advising will be available by UTHSC and either LeMoyne-Owen or Rhodes throughout the students’ participation in the program.

In addition, they 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 allows nursing students to interact with other disciplines, mirroring their work environment upon graduation.

“When it comes to nursing, everyone knows it’s a high-demand field,” Folsom said. “Well, there’s a bottleneck for that field in between high school and professional, and that’s higher ed.”

He hopes to see up to 12 participants when the program kicks off in the fall of next year.

The UTHSC College of Nursing also has partnership enrollment programs with Rhodes College, Southwest Tennessee Community College and Dyersburg State Community College, providing opportunities for associate and diploma-prepared nurses to earn the BSN degree. UTHSC initiated the partnership with all four colleges.

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