The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing received approval Thursday from the Texas Board of Nursing, enabling the college to welcome its charter class of 44 students.
“We’re pleased to have passed the final hurdle before admitting the first class of nursing students into the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing and to address a nursing shortage that threatens both the availability and quality of care available to patients,” said Nancy Dickey, M.D., President of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for the Texas A&M System.
“This is a very important step for the Texas A&M University System and the health science center in addressing state health care work force needs.”
The Texas Board of Nursing overwhelmingly approved the HSC-College of Nursing as having met the minimum requirements and standards for establishing a baccalaureate degree nursing educational program to prepare registered nurses.
The college also received approval earlier this year from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
The HSC-College of Nursing was commended for the well-written and comprehensive proposal for establishing a new program. Board approval authorizes the college to admit and enroll students immediately. Full approval status will occur when the HSC-College of Nursing graduates its inaugural class.
“We are pleased with today’s action by the Texas Board of Nursing, which now enables us to begin educating tomorrow’s nurses today,” said Sharon A. Wilkerson, R.N., Ph.D., acting dean and professor in the HSC-College of Nursing. “The HSC-College of Nursing has tremendous potential to nourish and develop quality nursing leaders.”
Beginning this fall, the HSC-College of Nursing in Bryan-College Station will offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree program.
This nursing program initially will offer two different “tracks” for the baccalaureate degree. One will be a generic B.S.N. requiring two years of prerequisite courses and two years of nursing curricula.
A second “accelerated” program is ideal for those who already have earned a bachelor’s degree in another field of study and decided to change careers. Upon acceptance into this program, students will receive their B.S.N. in only 18 months.
A third track, planned for the future, will be an R.N.-to-B.S.N. program allowing registered nurses with associate degrees to complete additional course work for the B.S.N.
The new HSC-College of Nursing will help alleviate the severe nursing shortage across Texas, compounded by an existing nursing work force that is aging and ready to retire. The THECB agreed that increasing the number of registered nurse graduates was so important as to warrant designation as a specific target of success for Closing the Gaps in 2015: The Texas Higher Education Plan.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, more than a million new and replacement nurses will be needed to fill vacancies during the next 10 years, and, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor has identified registered nursing as the top occupation in terms of growth through the year 2012.
The mission of the Texas Board of Nursing is to protect and promote the welfare of the people of Texas by ensuring each person holding a license as a nurse is competent to practice safely. The board fulfills its mission through the regulation of the practice of nursing and the approval of nursing education programs. The mission, derived from the Nursing Practice Act, supersedes the interest of any individual, the nursing profession or any special interest group.
The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its seven colleges located in communities throughout Texas are the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, the College of Medicine in College Station and Temple, the College of Nursing in College Station, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville, and the School of Rural Public Health in College Station.