UTMB's School of Nursing recently honored the more than 100 students, including 43 master’s degree candidates, who completed their degree course work in December. More than half were the graduates of a special accelerated program known as the BACC2.
“We’re so proud of all the students who worked so hard during this program,” said Pamela G. Watson, Dean of the School of Nursing. “And we’re also proud that UTMB continues to be an innovator in nursing education.”
The accelerated program, established in 2004, allows students with an undergraduate degree and the proper prerequisites to complete their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in three semesters, or one calendar year. Students start the program in January and attend full time, taking 20 credit hours for three consecutive semesters, earning their BSN by December. The curriculum includes on-line courses, face-to-face seminars and clinical practice.
Initially developed in coordination with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing, the program was created in response to an increasing demand for BSN nurses and the fact that officials determined that there was a potentially large pool of highly-qualified applicants for the program, said Ernestine Cuellar, associate dean of admissions for the UTMB School of Nursing.
The two programs separated in 2007 and UTMB now confers degrees to an average of 65 students per year. While there are other accelerated programs in Texas, only UTMB offers a 12-month course of study.
“The course requires drive, dedication and discipline,” said Byron Nash, one of this year’s graduates.
By definition, students are older than the norm, having already completed one undergraduate degree. Many have had some experience in the workforce before they decide they want to pursue nursing.
“It’s a new chapter in my life,” said Astrea Farmer, 27, whose first degree is in kinesiology. “I decided to go into nursing because of the economy and the things that are going on now.”
Khadijah Washington, 34, has a degree in psychology and is a certified surgical technician. “I needed to be able to do it fast,” she said. “I thought ‘I can sacrifice a year of my life to better myself.’ I’ll be a better patient care provider.”
She said the program is ideal for the adult student going back to school, and the faculty really helps students succeed. During the application process, students “get to meet the faculty and tell them about yourself, how sincere you are in accomplishing your goal.
“It’s really a special program.”