The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing and the South Texas College (STC) Associate Degree in Nursing Program (ADN) in McAllen announced a partnership today that will enable STC students to seamlessly advance their nursing education.

“The Texas A&M Health Science Center has a tradition of educating top nursing graduates and their partnership with South Texas College will allow more Associate Nursing graduates to realize their higher education goals more quickly,” said State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-District 20, in a written statement. “I have no doubt that this partnership will enhance education and help address our shortage of nurses across the South Texas region, and I’m proud to support these groups in their new venture.”

The agreement, signed today by Lee Ann Ray, Ed.D., Chief of Staff to the President at the Texas A&M Health Science Center  and Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, The Texas A&M University System; Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, dean, TAMHSC-College of Nursing; Shirley A. Reed, M.B.A., Ed.D., president, STC; Juan E. Mejia, M.Ed., Ed.D., vice president for academic affairs, STC; and Melba Trevino, M.Ed., interim division dean for nursing/allied health, STC, will allow STC students who complete the ADN program to enter TAMHSC and pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.). The joint admissions process creates a clear path for STC students to pursue their bachelor’s degree, without the need to repeat successfully completed courses.

“Obtaining an associate’s degree for our nursing graduates is only the beginning,” said Trevino. “Our goal is to instill a desire in them to achieve higher levels of education.  This agreement between TAMHSC’s College of Nursing and STC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program brings us one step closer to this goal.  It is a great day at South Texas College when we can break down barriers and hasten our Associate Degree Nursing graduates in achieving their goal of furthering their education.”

The October 2010 Institute for Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80 percent by 2020. According to data from the Texas Board of Nursing, 42 percent of nurses in Texas currently hold baccalaureate degrees.

“Evolving standards among health care providers and a growing body of research linking the level of nursing education to the quality of patient care make the B.S.N. more important than ever,” said Dr. Wilkerson. “We are thrilled to partner with South Texas College to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Interested students will be enrolled in TAMHSC-College of Nursing’s online RN-to-B.S.N. program, which allows nurses to continue working while completing a bachelor’s degree.

“Articulation agreements such as this one remove obstacles to an advanced degree,” Dr. Wilkerson said.  “This is a win-win for both nursing students and the patients they serve.”

The TAMHSC-College of Nursing has existing articulation agreements in place with Blinn College in Bryan-College Station and Austin Community College.

— Holly Shive

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