UT Tyler, LeTourneau Collaborate On Nurse Training
By MEGAN MIDDLETON
LeTourneau University and the University of Texas at Tyler are partnering to offer LeTourneau students the opportunity to pursue a nursing degree and help chip away at the nationwide nursing shortage.
Officials announced the public-private partnership Tuesday.
Under the agreement, LeTourneau students can earn two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences (BAHS) from LeTourneau and a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) from UT Tyler, pending accreditation approval, according to a statement from both universities.
"It's one of the ways we can demonstrate we are increasing our enrollment -- that we are trying to do something to help with the nursing shortage," said Dr. Pam Martin, the associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs at UT Tyler, who came up with the idea for the partnership. "It brings in very highly qualified academic students to the university. It puts our name out on an even bigger, more global focus. These are students from everywhere who come to LeTourneau."
LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christian university. Its main campus is located in Longview.
As students meet a certain grade point average and LeTourneau prerequisites, they will gain placement in UT Tyler's nursing school, according to officials at both universities.
Three academic years will be spent studying first at LeTourneau during fall and spring semesters, with summer online classes, followed by four semesters (summer, fall, spring and summer) at the UT Tyler Longview campus, where students will complete clinical course requirements and earn BSN degrees in preparation to take the RN Licensure exam, officials at the schools said. LeTourneau nursing students are to begin clinical observation during their freshman year.
Ms. Martin said nursing programs in Texas were given an incentive to increase enrollment to help tackle the nursing shortage in the state and across the country.
She approached the president of LeTourneau with the idea to partner. Currently, LeTourneau does not offer a nursing degree.
"There was just a very, very good fit with our philosophies and what we could offer students who wanted to go this route," she said.
Students who follow this path will be admitted into the College of Nursing at UT Tyler but still will have access to all LeTourneau functions, she said.
The program will be fast and rigorous, Ms. Martin said.
Working on the "fast track" helps get the students into the work force faster and puts more registered nurses out there to help decrease the shortage, she said.
And the partnership opens up new opportunities for LeTourneau students.
"We've had, for years, people asking, 'Do you have nursing? Do you have nursing?" said Dr. Amiel Jarstfer, dean of the school of arts and sciences at LeTourneau. "Well, this is a pathway into nursing for LeTourneau now."
Jarstfer said as part of the program, LeTourneau will offer four semesters of Spanish language, including a semester of Spanish for health professionals, as well as opportunities for global service learning opportunities, including some clinical service learning opportunities.
"We're very excited. We were very active collaborators in designing the whole program," he said.
Jarstfer said they wanted to make sure the students would have a "LeTourneau experience" before going into the clinical nursing courses with UT Tyler.
"You can do the bare minimum of about 60 credit hours to go into a nursing program pretty much anywhere in the state of Texas and even nationwide," he said. "We didn't want to do the bare minimum. We're not about the bare minimum. We want an excellent product.
"These will be very excellent nurses," he said, noting they will have benefited from experiences with both universities.
There is already "quite a significant interest" in this opportunity from potential students, Jarstfer said.
Students interested in the program may apply to LeTourneau for the Health Sciences major scheduled to begin in fall 2010.
Applicants will be admitted upon the program's approval by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which accredits both universities.
Ms. Martin said there has been nothing but support from the two university presidents for the partnership.
She said this is another way to show people across the state that UT Tyler has an excellent program and is now connected with "another excellent university in East Texas."
"It's a positive thing for East Texas. The entire region will benefit from having this program," she said. "There is not another collaboration like this in Texas. It's a very unusual thing for a private Christian university and a state university to do something like this. So we once again are pioneers. … We're very excited about that."