Texas A&M Health Science Center To Offer New Nursing Degree For Primary Care Shortage

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BRYAN - The Texas A&M Health Science Center is trying to tackle a big problem for Texas and the rest of the country: a growing shortage of primary care physicians.

It's offering a new graduate degree.

News 3 looked at how the new family nurse practitioner program is expected to help patients looking for health care.

Nursing students are put to the test daily here at the Texas A&M Health Science Center but soon the nursing school hopes to train a new select group of medical professionals

Starting next year the center hopes to start offering a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner degree.

Kara Schubart, a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Texas A&M Health Science Center, says the new nurses will be able to perform many of the same functions as a doctor.

"Because of their advanced education and training {they} are able to assess, diagnose, treat, prescribe medications, order and interpret laboratory tests in collaboration with physicians," said Schubart, DNP.

Not only is there a nursing shortage but demand is also increasing because of an aging population, as well as more people gaining access to insurance with the Affordable Care Act.

"Our graduates will be able to provide primary care to individuals from the cradle to the grave because it's a family nurse practitioner program and there'll be a focus in addition to treating health problems. A great focus on wellness and health promotion and disease prevention and that's certainly something the State of Texas and its residents need," Schubart said.

The program will start out with 20 students with plans to eventually double that number.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center hopes to start offering the two year master's program in January, pending approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.