Inaugural Veteran to BSN Class
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Nursing held their first December graduation. Over 1,000 students received their degree, seven of which were a part of the inaugural Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) program, completing their degree in one year.
“The VBSN program was the brainchild of faculty who realized we have veterans coming out of the military with extensive medical training,” said Melinda Mitchell Jones, J.D., R.N., TTUHSC School of Nursing non-traditional undergraduate associate dean. “We wanted to recognize their accomplishments and training by giving them an accelerated 12-month pathway to begin their nursing career.”
TTUHSC School of Nursing Dean Michael Evans, Ph.D., FAAN, shared at commencement when medics and corpsmen separate from service, they have no certification or license which translates into a career.
For President’s Ambassador Matthew Reed, the program helped advance from a flight respiratory therapist to graduate of the VBSN program. He accepted a job offer to work as an emergency room nurse at Baptist Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo and plans to continue his education to become a family nurse practitioner.
“There are several components of the program which benefit veterans,” Reed said. “The length of time it takes to receive your degree helped me get started on my career in nursing much faster than if I had done it through a traditional BSN program. The program also built on the skills I acquired in the Air Force. Because of those two things, it went by so quickly. I feel like I just started yesterday and I’m already finished.”
Reed also credits the program’s coaching model for increasing his independence during his clinical sessions.
“My coach stayed with me and really helped me to progress,” Reed said. “They step back throughout the program, giving students the ability to be independent by the end of the program.”
Nick St. Clair, VBSN graduate, member of Sigma Theta Tau and the International Honor Society of Nursing, agreed the TTUHSC School of Nursing coaching model helped him gain confidence when caring for patients.
“The coach model was helpful in providing a consistent clinical learning environment,” St. Clair said. “The program really made us stand out when employers were comparing us to graduates from other schools. Graduates from the VBSN program typically take a full patient assignment five or six patients by the time they finish their first semester, which really sets us apart from our peers.”
St. Clair accepted a position at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He also plans to volunteer in areas that will improve public health.
VBSN Graduate Yayee Thayer completed her degree in Dallas and will begin nursing practice at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. Thayer, a member of Sigma Theta Tau, participated in the School of Nursing’s second trip to Peru. She plans to return to school to become a perioperative unit surgical nurse practitioner.
“I loved applying the concept of nursing in a different community,” Thayer said. “Also, our advisors are really helpful and receptive to our needs. I was able to earn my degree in half the time it takes a traditional student. The program expedited the time it took to receive my degree and by applying the skills I gained in the military. I was also able to move to Dallas and be with my family. I am very happy I chose TTUHSC.”