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ETSU College of Nursing wins Pacesetter award

Contributed • Nov 22, 2019 at 5:42 PM

East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing earned an award for the redesign of the curriculum for its popular Licensed Practical Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

The Southern Regional Education Board Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing recently presented the 2019 Pacesetter Award to ETSU’s Dr. Melessia Webb and Tabitha Quillen for their podium presentation titled “Using Teaching and Technology to Redesign LPN to BSN Curriculum.”

They were presented with a sculptural rendering of a butterfly designed by Hans Godo Frabel and chosen by SREB CCEN especially for the ETSU College of Nursing in recognition of the podium presentation.

Webb is associate dean for undergraduate programs and Quillen is director of undergraduate post-licensure programs in the College of Nursing.

“It was an honor to receive this award because ETSU’s College of Nursing is seen as a pacesetter, being ahead of the curve,” Webb said.

When the LPN to BSN program started at ETSU in 2001, it was primarily accessible to working nursing professionals in the Tri-Cities area, with courses offered on-ground with traditional students on ETSU’s main campus in Johnson City. This format did not provide opportunities for the growth that was in demand across the state.

The idea for ETSU’s new LPN to BSN program came by accident, when leaders from the College of Nursing decided to visit community colleges to discuss ways to build the RN to BSN program.

“While we were visiting the community colleges, we were able to meet with many Tennessee Centers for Applied Technology Practical Nursing students who shared with us why they were not able to attend ETSU’s current LPN to BSN program,” Webb said. “We decided to develop a needs assessment to see what we could do to offer a program that would appeal to this group of nurses.”

The needs assessment revealed that Practical Nursing students wanted a program that was accessible, meaning that the college needed to offer it remotely to meet the demand from students as far away as Memphis. Students also wanted an accelerated format and articulation credits awarded based on knowledge gained from their LPN training.

With that information in hand, ETSU’s College of Nursing went to work to develop a program that would meet these requests. The college worked with Tennessee College of Applied Technology sites to ensure that 23 hours of articulation credit could be awarded to students based on their LPN training. They also developed a program that could be completed in four straight semesters – including summers.

A hybrid program offers 50% of coursework fully online and 50% of the courses conducted via instructional television at other Tennessee locations.

In the fall 2018 semester, the College of Nursing enrolled 59 students in cohorts in three cities, with classes livestreamed from Johnson City to the TCATS in both Nashville and Crossville. In spring 2019, the program expanded to Chattanooga’s Erlanger Health System.

This fall, the program added its first cohorts in Sevierville and Newbern, and the college is looking at adding two additional sites in spring 2020 in order to help meet demand and alleviate the statewide nursing shortage.

“The growth of the program has been exponential,” Quillen said. “We have 94 new students enrolled this fall and already have 178 applicants for spring 2020. Within four semesters, we have been able to enroll almost the same number of students our traditional program enrolls.”

To learn more about ETSU’s LPN to BSN program, visit www.etsu.edu/nursing/undergrad/lpn_bsn.php.

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