The Belmont University School of Nursing is moving to help address the state’s growing shortage of nurses, by launching a “fast-track” nursing program that leads to a bachelor of science in nursing degree in as little as 16 months. It is the first program of its kind in Tennessee, says Debra Wollaber, Dean of the Belmont School of Nursing.
The program is for students who have already completed either a different bachelor’s degree program or have already completed certain prerequisites and general-education courses. Belmont also offers a traditional four-year nursing degree program.
The fast-track program is ideal for working adults seeking to change careers, or non-working adults with college degrees in a different field.
“The nursing shortage is huge,” says Wollaber, adding that people considering a career change to nursing often call Belmont to ask “how can I get in and get out quickly?'”
Wollaber says the BSN degree opens the door to greater career opportunities than does the basic two-year associate degree in nursing. Holders of the BSN can generally expect to rise more rapidly to management and leadership positions within a hospital or medical practice setting.
Admission to the accelerated program will be “highly selective,” says Wollaber.
The report released Tuesday by the Tennessee Independent Colleges & University Association discusses a growing shortage of nurses, expected to reach 9,495 registered nurses statewide by the year 2020, unless steps are taken to increase the number of nursing students and nursing faculty statewide. The shortage is caused by a combination of factors, such as the declining number of nursing school graduates, limited nursing program capacity, the aging registered nurse workforce, declining relative earnings for nurses, and increased demand for nursing services.