Angelina College, Texas A&M Announce Nursing Partnership
The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing and the Angelina College (AC) Associate Degree in Nursing Program (ADN) in Lufkin formalized a partnership today that will create new opportunities for East Texas nurses interested in advancing their nursing education. The collaboration will ultimately lead to better outcomes for patients across the state.
“Education is the key to so many of our nation’s problems,” said Chancellor John Sharp with The Texas A&M University System. “The Texas A&M University System is committed to addressing the state’s nursing shortage and helping our frontline caregivers get the best education possible in their communities.”
Angelina College President Michael Simon said, “Partnerships like this align perfectly with the mission of Angelina College to provide quality educational opportunities and services to aid students in reaching their full potential.” Simon explained, “Angelina College already works closely with partners in the health care sector to ensure the college’s Health Careers programs combine classroom and laboratory instruction with relevant clinical and practicum experiences, and this partnership will leverage these existing relationships to benefit students, healthcare employers, and the East Texas region.”
The agreement, signed by Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp; Paul E. Ogden, M.D., interim senior vice president and chief operating officer of TAMHSC; Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, dean of the TAMHSC College of Nursing; Trey Henderson, AC Trustee; Michael J. Simon, Ed.D., president of AC; and Patricia McKenzie, Ed.D., vice president and dean of instruction at AC, will allow Angelina College students who complete the associate degree in nursing program to enter TAMHSC and pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) or Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degree in nursing education. The agreement will create a seamless transition for AC students who wish to further their nursing education, without the need to repeat successfully completed courses.
"This unique and collaborative partnership will serve to further enhance higher education opportunities in this area, and at the same time, help in meeting the growing health care needs of our community and region," said Rep. Trent Ashby. "I believe this program is exactly the kind of innovative and out-of-the-box thinking we need to offer local students, who might otherwise have to move somewhere else to receive this type of advanced degree. It's exciting to see East Texas leading the way."
The 2010 Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing report established a goal that by 2020, 80 percent of nurses in the United States would be baccalaureate-prepared. Specifically, the report recommends “educational collaborations that allow for automatic and seamless transitions from an ADN to a B.S.N. program.” A growing body of research shows a connection between baccalaureate education and better patient outcomes. Dr. Patricia McKenzie, Angelina College Vice President and Dean of Instruction, said, “Angelina College has offered the East Texas community outstanding graduates and highly competent health care practitioners since our first class in 1970. We promise to continue excellence in educational experiences as our clinical partners help us to refine the needed skills for entry-level positions. The agreement with Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center will expand the educational opportunities for AC graduates in keeping with the Institute’s findings.”
“Today, nurses are called upon to provide more primary and preventive care, and to educate patients and their families on how to care for patients at home,” Wilkerson said. “Nurses who earn baccalaureate degrees have a depth of knowledge that can help them better address the changing demands of health care in our society.”
The partnership will ease the transition of associate degree nurses interested in obtaining a B.S.N., in keeping with the call for more nurses with advanced education, as well as those seeking a master’s degree to join the education workforce. In addition, there is an option for bachelor-prepared nurses interested in obtaining their M.S.N. in nursing education.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Texas faces not only a shortage of nurses in the workforce, but a lack of nursing faculty to educate those nurses. In 2011, the THECB reported that Texas schools turned away more than 11,000 qualified applicants primarily due to a lack of nursing faculty.
“Producing qualified nurse educators to fill necessary faculty positions is key to answering the demand for nurses in the workforce,” Wilkerson added. “To help eliminate the bottleneck occurring in nursing education, agreements like this will prepare graduates to serve as educators in both the higher education and patient care settings. We are so pleased to partner with Angelina College to advance nursing education in East Texas. It’s a win-win for both nursing students and the patients they serve.”
In addition to opportunities for AC associate degree nurses, the program will also be available to area nurses already practicing in the field. Interested students will be enrolled in TAMHSC College of Nursing’s online programs for RN-to-B.S.N., RN-to-M.S.N., or B.S.N-to-M.S.N, which allows nurses to continue practicing while advancing their education.
The TAMHSC College of Nursing has existing articulation agreements in place with Blinn College in Bryan-College Station, Austin Community College in Round Rock and South Texas College in McAllen. Information on TAMHSC programs can be found at: nursing.tamhsc.edu/apply/.