PALESTINE, Texas (KETK) – The nationwide nursing shortage has been a hot topic in recent years.
Here in East Texas, people are hoping to do something about it.
Trinity Valley Community College and UT Tyler have signed an agreement that will hopefully make a significant impact on this issue.
Over the years there has been a decline in the number of nurses in the workforce, and rural areas, like East Texas, tend to bear the brunt of that problem.
That’s why UT Tyler and Trinity Valley Community College are teaming up to combat the shortage quickly and effectively.
“We have articulation agreements already in place, but this articulation agreement will be beneficial to our students who want to go into our bachelor of science program,” said Dr. Jerry King, President of Trinity Valley Community College.
To further complicate the nursing shortage, many hospitals now require nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree (BSN) and sometimes turn away qualified applicants who only have an associate’s degree (ADN).
ADN students receive the exact same nursing license as BSN students. They can usually begin work earlier as they require only two years rather than four.
BSN graduates come out of school prepared to participate and lead research projects and have more focus on leadership and management.
BSN prepared nurses usually are more prepared to provide workplace education or even go back to school for a higher nursing degree.
“To get any nursing degree is very challenging and rigorous, so to be shut out simply because you didn’t get the other half of it is really disappointing for all those people who worked so hard,” said Dusty Birchfield, level 2 nursing student at UT Tyler Palestine.
This agreement will allow students to work toward their ADN and BSN concurrently.
Despite the shortage and greater desire for BSNs, we’re told, there are still well paying jobs for ADN nurses.
Students can use this to their advantage.
“What they’re going to do is they’re going to become RNs, they’re going to go to work and they’re going to work on this degree as they’re working so they can ultimately get a bachelor’s degree from UT Tyler,” said Dr. King.
“And it cuts down on the amount of time someone has to spend in school or it keeps them from having to relocate to other areas,” said Birchfield. “It really keeps a lot of professionals in the rural areas.”
Less time in school often means less spent on tuition.
With a nursing shortage and BSN nurses being in such high demand, UT Tyler hopes this will be a game-changer in the world of nursing here in East Texas.
“Here in East Texas it’s very hard to have a full nursing staff on units at all times,” said Dr. Dixie Rose, Clinical Instructor at UT Tyler Palestine. “So the more nurses that come out prepared to work in the workforce, the better our patients are served and our community becomes healthier as a result.”
Dr. Rose says being an RN is all about teamwork and leadership, putting in more hours in the classroom and for clinical trials, she says, makes all the difference.
“So to have that extra bit of knowledge up front when you start out will make a huge impact on teamwork and eventually in patient outcomes,” Dr. Rose said.
Making sure today’s students are extra-prepared to be tomorrow’s caretakers.