Belmont University School of Nursing Introduces Early Entry Program for Graduate Nursing Degree

Program to Help Address High Demand for Nurse Practitioners across Country, State

students work on a manniken
Nursing Simulation at Belmont University taken prior to COVID-19.

The past year has put an even greater strain on an already-understaffed healthcare industry, and the demand for nurse practitioners continues to grow rapidly across the country and the state. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development predicts there will be the need for more than 6,000 nurse practitioner jobs by 2024, growing nearly 4 percent every year. As many nursing schools across the country are struggling to expand capacity to face the shortage of nurses, Belmont University is now offering a new program to help meet this demand.

High-achieving Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students are now eligible to get a head start on an advanced nursing degree from Belmont by completing approved graduate level courses within their undergraduate program of study. The Early Entry Program provides the opportunity to earn up to 14 credits toward either a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Master of Science in Nursing, saving students time and money in a graduate degree designed to prepare them to be Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 45 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Several factors contribute to this demand, including an increased emphasis on preventive care and demand for healthcare services from the aging baby boomer population, in addition to the global pandemic.

“There is an increasing need for nurses and nurse practitioners throughout our country,” noted Cathy Taylor, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont. “Our School of Nursing is at the forefront of meeting this challenge. We are happy to enhance the educational opportunity for future nurse professionals by connecting our undergraduate and graduate programs in this way. We hope many of our BSN students will take advantage of this great new option.”

Belmont students have proven ready for the challenge, too, as licensure and certification pass rates are consistently above national averages. In 2019, the School of Nursing boasted a 100 percent FNP Certification Pass Rate for the 15th consecutive year, as well as a 93 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination.

Belmont’s location is incredibly advantageous for future graduates, with limitless clinical opportunities in Nashville, a major healthcare hub boasting a $92 million health care industry, more than 500 health care companies and major healthcare facilities. The Tennessee government reports extensive job opportunities across the state, having added thousands of nursing jobs in the past decade. This February, nursing positions were the most advertised, with dozens more positions listed than in any other occupation.

Belmont nursing students learn and practice in the first accredited simulation center in Tennessee, providing opportunities to safely prepare for clinical experiences in state-of-the-art laboratories in the University’s Gordon E. Inman Center. These nursing labs feature more than 30 simulation manikins who breathe, respond to touch and other stimuli and provide a life-like patient care environment. The School of Nursing facilities also house laboratories that simulate daily living activities, surgical operating rooms, intensive care units, adult health nursing stations, patient exam areas, a birthing lab and a multi-media debriefing room.

Linda Wofford, graduate nursing program director, added, “The Early Entry Program is an exciting way to not only introduce Belmont BSN students to our graduate programs, but also an innovative way to offer a seamless transition.”

Eligible students must meet qualification requirements by the midpoint of their sophomore year to participate in the Early Entry Program during their junior and senior years. Students have the potential to complete a full semester of graduate coursework while at the same time earning undergraduate credit toward their BSN degree. 

Prospective Belmont nursing students should contact the undergraduate admissions office to learn more details about this opportunity or visit Belmont’s website.