PHOTO: Columbia State President Dr. Janet Smith (left) and Lipscomb President Dr. L. Randolph Lowry III (right) sign a nursing school partnership on July 3, 2018 in Franklin. / RUSSELL VANNOZZI
By RUSSELL VANNOZZI
In an effort to prepare more nurses for the workforce, Columbia State Community College and Lipscomb University have teamed up to offer students an affordable nursing bachelor’s degree plan.
The partnership was made official on Tuesday afternoon when Columbia State President Dr. Janet Smith and Lipscomb President Dr. L. Randolph Lowry III put pen to paper at Columbia State’s Williamson County campus in Franklin.
Under the agreement, students will spend their first two years at Columbia State to complete all perquisite classes needed to receive admission into Lipscomb’s nursing school. The students can then seamlessly transfer to Lipscomb for their final two years to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
“I think there’s a lot of evidence that students need to see what their career path is – they need to have a vision of themselves and their career,” Lowry said. “This program will allow that to happen in a much easier way.”
According to the American Nurses Association, 500,000 registered nurses are expected to retire by 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 1.1 million new RNs will be needed for industry expansion and replacement of retirees.
That problem is compounded by the fact that nursing schools across the country are unable to take in enough students to produce enough graduates to meet the demand.
“There are so many folks out there that want to be nurses and there’s just not enough programs to meet the need for nurses,” Smith said. “This (program) is an opportunity that hasn’t been there before.”
Lowry said he realizes Lipscomb can’t solve a national issue on its own, but he mentioned that the school is planning to do its part.
“The need for nurses is fairly substantial nationwide, so we probably won’t take care of all of that,” he said. “But in our part of the world, we’ll take care of a little piece of it, and we’ll do it in a way that produces outstanding nurses.”
Students can attend Columbia State for free with the Tennessee Promise scholarship, and Lipscomb will offer stackable scholarships to help students afford the final two years of school. Those include the Lipscomb Pathways Scholarship ($11,000 or $13,000 per year, depending on living arrangements), which is given to transfer students, and the Tennessee Community College Award ($3,000 per year), given to students who have earned at least 30 credit hours from a Tennessee community college.
“It’s a win-win for the students,” Smith said. “(The scholarships) in and of themselves will help bring students our direction.”
The program is currently accepting applications for its August 2018 pilot cohort, who will take 128 credit hours over the four-year degree plan. Lipscomb’s 2017 nursing graduates had a 95.3 percent pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam and 100 percent job placement.
Lipscomb University President Dr. L. Randolph Lowry III speaks to the crowd during Tuesday’s ceremony at Columbia State’s Williamson County campus. / RUSSELL VANNOZZI