The Tennessee Tech University Whitson-Hester School of Nursing is making it easier for registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree.
To make it easier for working professionals to continue their education, the school is moving required courses online. All of the courses will be online by fall.
“This is something our community needs because students working on this degree are going outside the Upper Cumberland for it,” said nursing professor Barbara Jared. “Part of Tennessee Tech’s mission is to serve the needs of the Upper Cumberland, and this is a growing need.”
More nursing students are enrolling in the online master’s degree and Regents Online Degree programs, and faculty wanted to offer a similar course for a bachelor’s, Jared said.
TTU has had a program to allow registered nurses to get their bachelor of science degree for years, but the classes have been offered during the traditional school day. That schedule is not flexible enough for working nurses, and enrollment in the program has been low.
Eventually, nursing faculty plan to recruit nationwide for the program. They are already in discussion with several Tennessee community colleges about concurrent enrollment agreements, so RNs will need two additional semesters of coursework before completing a four-year degree.
“The majority of these nurses want to come back for a baccalaureate degree,” said Sherry Gaines, director of the school. “Sometimes, it’s their employer who encourages them, sometimes they do it on their own.”
The advanced degree allows nurses to advance in their careers.
“More facilities and their management structures in nursing will be requiring a bachelor’s or a master’s,” Jared said. “It’s not everywhere, but we’re seeing it more and more.”
The change will not affect full-time nursing students who are working toward their bachelor’s degrees at TTU.