GREENEVILLE –– Citing an aging population of nurses nearing retirement and an aging population in general, Tusculum College announced Friday it is seeking to establish a four-year nursing program to help meet a coming health care need.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Tennessee Board of Nursing must approve the addition of the program. Should the teaching of nursing be approved at Tusculum, it would likely not begin until the fall of 2012.
Nancy Moody, president of Tusculum, said an American Association of Critical Care Nurses survey in 2009 reported that 59,000 qualified applicants for nursing programs were not accepted that year, mainly due to a shortage of teaching faculty. Many of those were entry-level baccalaureate applicants.
Moody also pointed to an Institute of Medicine study indicating better educated nurses lowered mortality rates among patients as a reason for adding a nursing program at Tusculum.
Currently in this region, East Tennessee State University, Northeast State Community College, Milligan College and King College all have nursing programs. These programs all hold on-site training for students in area health care facilities.
Moody said clinical experience for students in a Tusculum nursing program would also be held across the region, including at sites in Greeneville, Morristown, Rogersville and perhaps Johnson City. Other clinical sites could include schools, long-term care facilities and other regional health clinics.
“We’ll use lots of facilities, I assure you,” Moody said.
Moody said there was interest in a Tusculum nursing program.
Moody said she knew of several students who personally expressed an interest in attending a nursing program at Tusculum. Besides that, Moody cited Tusculum surveys from 2009, 2010 and 2011 where students already attending the school and indicated interest in nursing rose from 150 to 322.
“We’ve also had several people in the community say it would help the area, help the region, have people stay here in this region,” Moody said.
The only other health-related program at Tusculum is an athletic training major.
Moody said interest in establishing nursing at Tusculum was present prior to her being named president in 2009.
“I wanted to be sure the school and area were ready and needed a nursing program,” Moody said.
She said there is currently no shortage of nurses in Greene County, but there will be as Baby Boomers age.
Wendy Nehring, ETSU’s nursing dean, has discussed the prospect of a Tusculum nursing program with leaders from that school. She said Tusculum has assured her that the majority of students in a Tusculum nursing program would come from in and around Greeneville.
She also said the clinical experience commitments ETSU has with the area’s major hospitals takes precedence over newer nursing programs.
“So I think the newest schools in the area have been understanding,” Nehring said.
Tusculum is the oldest college in Tennessee and the 28th oldest in the nation. The four-year school offers undergraduate and graduate education to around 2,400 students. The liberal arts Judeo-Christian college has a main campus in Greeneville and three off-site locations in East Tennessee.