The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is awarding $1.1 million to Sam Houston State University’s nursing program to work toward meeting the state’s growing demand for nursing professionals.
“This award is significant for the School of Nursing because it will allow us to hire additional instructional staff to support student success and expand student learning opportunities in our nursing skills laboratory and simulation center,” said Michael Lacourse, dean of SHSU’s College of Health Sciences. “The size of the award reflects the fact that we are currently the fastest growing public School of Nursing in the state.”
SHSU received $535,907 last month and will receive another $535,907 in September.
The coordinating board establishes several criteria for funding eligibility each year. SHSU’s nursing program qualifies because it is considered a “new professional program” with the potential for graduating a high percentage of nursing students.
The Texas Legislature appropriated approximately $7 million to the Nursing Shortage Reduction Program for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. SHSU received the largest award of the seven state universities and 12 community colleges that applied.
The Nursing Shortage Reduction Program began in 2009, and during its inaugural year first-year enrollment in nursing schools grew 15.8 percent, while total enrollment increased 12 percent. Graduates increased 10.8 percent.
However, the Texas Center for Nursing Workplace Studies reports that despite the increase, the demand for full-time registered nurses in Texas exceeds the supply by about 22,000, a total that is expected to grow as currently-employed nurses retire and the state’s populations ages and requires more acute care.
Funds awarded through the program must be used for faculty enhancement, student recruitment and the identification, development and implementation of curriculum innovations.
Sam Houston State University’s nursing program has already achieved a number of milestones since it began enrolling students in 2010, according to Anne Stiles, director of the School of Nursing.
The program has been fully accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing since Jan. 1, 2013, and administrators will be hearing later in the spring about possible accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
“They came to campus in October for their site visit, and we passed 100 percent of their standards,” Stiles said.
The program has also recently been granted “Full Approval” status by the Texas Board of Nursing.
Students who complete the program are eligible to take the National Council Licensing Exam to become a registered nurse.
“We are very proud of the fact that in our first year of producing graduates, they scored higher than both the state and national pass rates for baccalaureate-prepared nurses,” Stiles said.
Beyond the classroom, SHSU’s nursing program has more than 60 partnerships, which offer students clinical experiences from pediatrics to psychiatry. Nursing students work with clinics, prisons, social agencies, home health care, hospice, the public schools and community programs.
“Our students are in great demand,” said Stiles. “Every agency we’ve approached has wanted us.”
Later this spring the School of Nursing will offer its first study-abroad program in Costa Rica in partnership with Universidad de Iberoamérica for an intensive clinical experience in pediatric nursing. In December, a trip to Thailand is being planned for a cultural immersion experience.
The school is also looking to offer an RN-to-BSN program and an LVN-to-BSN program in the future.
For more information about Sam Houston State University’s School of Nursing, visit shsu.edu/academics/nursing/.
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