Lee gets OK for nursing program
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
May 10, 2013 | 3352 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Tennessee Board of Nursing cleared the way Thursday for Lee University to build a nursing program.

Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Carolyn Dirksen and Dr. Carla Sanderson, Union University provost and former director of that school’s nursing program, presented Lee’s case in Nashville.

“This is a giant step forward. We’re excited about it and we are very appreciative of the local support we received during this process,” Conn said this morning.

After presenting the 40-page letter of intent and stating their case to the 10-member board and staff, he said the 10-member board gave its unanimous approval. The approval allows the university to hire a director, who will then hire two full-time faculty members and develop a program curriculum. Lee will ask for final board approval in February 2014.

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 the fall of 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 nursing school would be located initially in the Math and Science Building with plans for a new building by the fall of 2016.

Conn said the R.N.-to-BSN track was an important component of the presentation.

He and Cleveland State Community College President Dr. Carl Hite have had discussions over the years concerning a seamless articulation agreement for transition from a two- to four-year program.

Conn explained there are hundreds of excellent R.N.­s in Bradley County and the Tennessee Board of Nursing has a stated desire to increase the number of BSNs.

“We think the R.N.-to-BSN track will be an important component of the program,” he said.

There are approximately 1,100 nurses in Bradley County. Of those, more than 800 are registered nurses and about 250 have BSN certification.

Another component of the university’s successful application was the enthusiastic support of major health care providers in Cleveland and Chattanooga. SkyRidge Medical Center, Life Care Centers of America and the Bradley County Health Department in Bradley County; along with Erlanger, Memorial and Parkridge in Chattanooga all sent letters of support to the board.

But, Conn said, all of the clinical sites sent representatives to meet with the site visit team from the board of nursing on April 25.

“That was impressive to them,” he said. “Cleveland State was very supportive and that meant a lot, because they already have an established nursing program in the same community.”

Lee University announced in February it was seeking approval for a four-year nursing program and a director to shape Christian nursing education. A director has not been announced, but Conn said applications have been received. So far, all of them are from females.

Dirksen is directing the startup. The decision to further educate nurses follows a positive recommendation from a feasibility committee also led by Dirksen.

The nursing program would be housed in the Math and Science Building in the first few years. As the program grows, then a new building could be built.