South Texas College is starting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, according to officials at a special event Nov. 25. Among those in attendance were the inaugural cohort of student nurses clad in green scrubs.
Dr. Christie Candelaria serves as program chair of both the Associate Degree Nursing Program and the new BSN program.
“I would treat this just like having a family,” Candelaria said about the start of the BSN program. “We delivered the baby, now we have to take care of it. You have to provide it with all the necessities along with all the love and care so that it can grow and be successful.”
Continuing with the selection and enrollment process, the new BSN degree will start with a 30-student cohort this spring. A variety of working professionals, many of whom are former STC graduates, already comprise the new cohort. Among them are registered nurses and charge nurses from across the region. They come from Knapp Medical Center, Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance, Universal Health Services Inc., Rio Grande Regional Hospital and the Hidalgo County Health Department.
Fulfilling a need
STC Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Dr. Jayson Valerio said the start of the BSN answers a call from the National Academy of Medicine. The former Institute of Medicine is calling for a significant increase in bachelor-trained nurses by the next decade. NAM is recommending at least an 80 percent increase in the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce by 2020.
“This BSN will pave the way for a highly educated nursing workforce which is needed in our community and in our region,” said Valerio. “It feels so surreal, and I thank Dr. [Shirley A.] Reed and members of the Board of Trustees for the trust they have placed in us, the Division of Nursing and Allied Health, to initiate this program because this is a huge accomplishment.”
The plan is to start an ADN-RN to BSN transition program. Students who completed the Associate Degree in Nursing and who are licensed registered nurses will now have the opportunity to return to STC to complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.