Building a Highway to Health Care Education

The program is expected to help the nation reach its goal of 80 percent bachelor’s-prepared nurses by 2020.

The program is expected to help the nation reach its goal of 80 percent bachelor’s-prepared nurses by 2020.

The School of Nursing at Abilene has partnered with the Health Sciences Center of Cisco College to revitalize the institution’s long-standing Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) to Associate Nursing Degree (ADN) Program.

City leaders, Cisco College and university administrators expect that the collaboration will produce highly educated nurses suited to meet the country’s changing health care landscape.

“Through TTUHSC’s relationship with the Abilene hospital community and this partnership with Cisco College, we will create an academic highway to allow nurse aides to see their education through to the doctorate level,” said Patricia Allen, Ed.D., R.N., director of the School of Nursing’s Center for Innovation in Nursing Education. “Together with the leadership and faculty at Cisco College, we will create an innovative curriculum allowing seamless transition to the RN to BSN or RN to MSN program.”

The Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have set a goal for 80 percent of the nation’s nurses to earn their bachelor’s degrees in nursing by 2020 to provide safe, quality, patient-centered, accessible and affordable care in the 21st century. Currently the national average of bachelor’s-prepared nurses is 50 percent. Texas stands below that average at 37 percent.

“By re-launching Cisco College’s LVN to ADN program through this partnership, we are assisting in reaching the Institute of Medicine’s goal,” said Pearl Merritt, Ed.D., MSN, regional School of Nursing dean.

Merritt, a Cisco College graduate, earned her BSN from McMurry University, and went on to earn two master’s degrees from Abilene Christian University and a doctorate from TTUHSC. Merritt, Allen and Melinda Mitchell Jones, MSN, J.D., chair of the School of Nursing’s Non-Traditional Undergraduate Department, will develop innovative curriculum and provide oversight and mentoring for Cisco College’s new LVN to ADN program director.

"This type of collaboration between Cisco College, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, local health care providers and city leaders is something special that will become a model for sharing resources and building on each other's strengths,” said Cisco College President Bobby Smith. “The benefits are limitless."

The School of Nursing came to Abilene in 2008. Last year, with the help of Hendrick Health System, the school broke ground on a new nursing facility that will be donated to TTUHSC upon completion.

Cisco College began an LVN nursing program in 1972. The new LVN to ADN program will be accommodated in the recently completed 9,000-square-foot Health Sciences Center at Cisco College’s Abilene Educational Center.

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