COVID-19 significantly worsened the shortage of registered nurses (RNs) across many parts of the U.S. Comprising approximately one-third of a typical hospital workforce, RNs are essential to patient care and high-quality outcomes. Thus, new, innovative solutions are required to address unprecedented nursing workforce challenges in East Tennessee.
The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) has teamed up with the University of Tennessee (UT) College of Nursing and Lincoln Memorial University Caylor School of Nursing (LMU-CSON) to develop academic - practice partnerships. The intent is to attract and retain baccalaureate prepared RNs committed to serving the health care needs of patients in East Tennessee, not only today but in the future.
“We are building upon our long-standing relationships with the UT and LMU colleges of nursing to create mutually beneficial partnerships to address our region’s complex and unprecedented nursing shortage,” said Dr. Sandy Leake, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at UTMC.
These partnerships will provide early career development and growth opportunities for Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) students through mentorship with UTMC RNs. Employment is guaranteed during the program and results in a service commitment upon completion of a BSN.
“The University of Tennessee Medical Center is thrilled to partner with UT College of Nursing and LMU Caylor School of Nursing to find innovative approaches that will build and sustain a robust pipeline of high-quality BSN graduates. These nurses will likely live, work, and remain in our community, ensuring a long-term continuum of patient care,” said Leake. “The programs are designed to provide hands-on learning and clinical experience by working with RNs in the region’s only Magnet®-Designated hospital and to guarantee post-graduation employment.”
UTMC has partnered with UT College of Nursing to create a Nurse Scholars Program providing substantial financial support to BSN students. UTMC will use endowment funding to provide tuition assistance for eight to 12 student scholars annually, combined with a tuition discount offered by the UT College of Nursing.
“UT College of Nursing is excited to create a win-win partnership with UT Medical Center,” said Victoria Niederhauser, Dean of the college. “We are able to reduce the financial burden for nursing students while supporting the workforce needs for our clinical partners.”
The partnership with LMU-CSON will provide substantial financial support to BSN students through a Nursing Excellence Program. UTMC will offer annual tuition assistance for up to 10 Excellence in Nursing students, who will also receive discounted tuition from LMU. LMU-CSON will expose middle school students to health care careers and recruit high school students through health science clubs, health-related affinity groups and health care career camps. This multifaceted partnership will utilize co-branded messaging, digital marketing, co-hosted job fairs and shadowing opportunities for potential participants.
“East Tennessee has long been classified as medically underserved. The pandemic has only exacerbated nursing shortages,” said Dr. Jody Goins, LMU Executive Vice President for Administration. “The LMU Health Science Institute will provide nursing touch points for students as early as middle school and hopefully inspire more students choose nursing for a career. LMU is excited to enter into this partnership with UT Medical Center to train East Tennessee students to serve our communities for generations to come.”