A strength in numbers
Jun 03, 2013 | 461 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As our nation’s population grows and medical needs expand, so does the demand for qualified and fully educated nurses.

Few cities in America — if any — are filled to the brim with these guardians of care.

Hospitals want them. Retirement homes are in dire need of them. Veterans homes are always on the lookout for them. Private clinics are begging for them. And home-health services can’t get enough of them.

It stands to reason when community colleges and universities embrace a growth mode by leaning in the direction of an established nursing program, it is good news not only for the schools but for the host city, surrounding towns, the entire region and most importantly for vast numbers of young students — women and men — who clamor to join the field but are frustratingly turned away because limited slots are available for eligible students.

It might come as a surprise to some to learn that nursing is a competitive field. Not all who want to join the ranks of these licensed professionals are accepted because schools with established nursing programs can accommodate only so many students.

The answer is to expand opportunity. To do so means more schools must commit to such a nursing program or to grow those that already exist. When it happens, it’s a “giant step.”

Those aren’t our words although we certainly agree with them. They are quoted from a university president who understands the need, and the prestige that such an academic addition can bring to a campus.

We speak of Dr. Paul Conn who recently announced that Lee University has been given the green light by the Tennessee Board of Nursing to take the first steps toward establishing an academic program.

On the surface, it’s already an exciting development. Looking even deeper, the casual observer will see another significant advantage. Cleveland State Community College currently offers a high-quality nursing program in its two-year curriculum. Now, working as a partner — and not a competitor — with Lee University, the two will realize even greater opportunity as the four-year school cranks up its own program.

It is important to note the two college presidents have talked for years about such a partnership. CSCC President Dr. Carl Hite was among the first to speak publicly in support of the Lee vision.

In making his announcement of the favorable state board decision, Conn spoke of multiple reasons Lee University was granted the go-ahead. One was the landslide community support. It came not only from Cleveland State, but also a plethora of potential employers from Cleveland and Chattanooga: SkyRidge Medical Center, Life Care Centers of America, Bradley County Health Department, Erlanger Medical Center, Memorial Hospital and Parkridge Hospital, just to name a few.

In an onsite visit to Lee University in late April, a state board team was greeted by an array of representatives from area clinics who support the Lee cause and its articulation agreement with Cleveland State which would allow for a seamless transition by two-year CSCC nursing students to the Lee program.

Lee University plans to offer a bachelor of science in nursing to include a two-year track for registered nurses to earn BSN certification. The school plans to admit 40 BSN and 20 R.N.-to-BSN students each year beginning in Fall 2014. When the four-year pipeline is full in 2018, the school of nursing will have 240 students and seven full-time faculty members.

The state board’s initial approval grants Lee the chance to hire a director who will then hire two full-time faculty members and develop a program curriculum. Lee will seek final board approval in February 2014.

Lee University’s phenomenal growth over the past quarter-century has earned national, and to some degree, international attention in many venues.

The school’s exciting transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II, which is just around the corner, is still being heralded as an historic breakthrough. The establishment of a nursing program, in our opinion, is even bigger.

We congratulate Lee University for yet another milestone and we salute Cleveland State Community College in its role as a willing and cooperative partner in this worthwhile cause.