Free Will Baptist Bible College has joined the Partners in Nursing Consortium, a long-term partnership between Belmont University, HCA’s TriStar Health System and other select Tennessee colleges and universities that seeks to address the growing shortage of registered nurses in Tennessee.
Through this consortium Free Will Baptist students who are accepted into the program will earn an Associate’s of Science of Biology degree in two years at Free Will Baptist and will then transfer to Belmont, where all of their credits will apply toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Initially, eight spots will be reserved in Belmont’s nursing program for Free Will Baptist students, with the first cohort to begin in fall 2009. For their clinical experiences students in this program will have the opportunity to work within the HCA’s TriStar Health System hospitals as well as other local clinical agencies.
Belmont University Provost Dr. Dan McAlexander said, “We are delighted to welcome Free Will Baptist Bible College to the Partners in Nursing Consortium, knowing they will bring well-equipped students to a program that is playing a vital role in efforts to meet the growing need for nurses in Tennessee and the nation.”
Dr. J. Matthew Pinson, president of Free Will Baptist Bible College, said, “I’m delighted about Free Will Baptist Bible College’s 2 + 2 agreement with Belmont. It will allow our students the tremendous opportunity to receive an Associate’s Degree from FWBBC, and then go on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Belmont.”
A task force of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) issued a January 2004 report, “Securing Tennessee’s Future: Increasing Educational Capacity in Nursing,” which projected a shortage of 9,500 nurses in Tennessee by 2020. The growing crisis flows from a declining number of nursing school graduates, limited nursing program capacity, the aging of the current registered nurse workforce, declining relative earnings for nurses and increased demand for nursing services, according to TICUA. The nursing consortium is a long-term partnership to address that shortage and meet the needs of Middle Tennessee for quality health care professionals in nursing and other health sciences occupations through a dynamic, innovative and collaborative relationship between Belmont University and one of Nashville’s leading health care organizations.
Belmont launched an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in the fall of 2003 and has increased enrollment in its nursing program from 131 students in 2002 to 324 this year. The goal of the consortium is to enroll 600 nursing majors. Chris Algren, executive director of the Partners in Nursing said, “We are excited to welcome Free Will into this Consortium as we combine our strengths to impact nursing in this community.”
Belmont University formed the Partners in Nursing consortium in October 2004 to increase the number of registered nurses in Tennessee. Members of the Partners in Nursing Consortium include HCA’s Mid-America division as well as Volunteer State Community College, Trevecca Nazarene University and Nashville State Community College.