New health science degree helps advance careers in nursing
Healthcare is one of the most in-demand professions around, but nurses with only a two-year degree often find themselves blocked from promotion in their career.
Texas Wesleyan’s new Bachelor of Science in Health Science (BSHS) is designed to prepare associate-degreed nurses for graduate school admission or promotion in a number of high-demand medical and public health fields.
"Basically we are giving nurses the last two years of a four-year degree," says professor Bruce Benz, chair of biology. "This provides them with an opportunity for upward mobility, such as being in charge of a floor or to run an ICU wing, or to enroll in a graduate program like our Graduate Programs of Nurse Anesthesia (GPNA)."
Dual tracks for different goals
The hybrid degree has two tracks: The biology concentration prepares students for direct admissions into the GPNA program and the social sciences concentration prepares students for entry or advancement in a number of high-demand health science careers.
Calling it an alternative to the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Benz says the BSHS is truly a unique degree and the only one of its kind, but he believes others will follow suit before long.
"There’s always a need for nurses," he says. "But people who run nursing programs have a hard time keeping up with demand. We are providing an alternative that does not ignore the need for certification, but gives them content they otherwise wouldn’t get."
Making it simple for students
Faculty are working to establish exchange relationships with local schools that offer two-year nursing degrees so that students can transfer seamlessly into the BSHS program.
"Students who come out of two-year nursing programs are by and large, good students," Benz says. "And some of them could come here under the "Smaller. Smarter. Promise Scholarship," which pays 100 percent tuition."
Plans are also in the works to make the degree even more accessible by putting some of the coursework online. For some classes, students would only come to campus for the lab work.
In April, faculty from the School of Natural and Social Sciences and GPNA were given the President’s Gem Award for their work on the new degree.
President Frederick G. Slabach said the new degree is a great example of the kind of innovative educational opportunities the university values.
"It puts Texas Wesleyan in position to compete with area colleges offering streamlined nursing and health science programs," he says. "It is in line with the academic goals outlined in our 2020 Vision."