Registered nurses may be able to pursue bachelor's of science in nursing degrees at Austin Community Colleges following approval of its first bachelor's program in fall 2018.
The ACC Board of Trustees approved the program, which will be the first of its kind in Central Texas, during its regular December meeting.
The program was developed in response to "critical workforce needs" in Central Texas, said ACC spokesperson Jessica Vess.
"Texas and the nation are facing a critical nursing shortage," said health sciences dean Pat Recek. "In 2010, the Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences recommended that more nurses in acute-care settings such as hospitals hold a bachelor of science in nursing degree."
The program aims at targeting more than 7,500 registered nurses in the ACC service area who would qualify for the program, Recek said.
"This demand for BSN-level nurses has added importance in Central Texas, where the population has grown exponentially in recent years and the workforce need is critical," Recek said. "ACC is committed to filling this shortage."
The program includes online, hybrid, and onsite courses. Currently, the only other options for registered nurses living in Central Texas are online RN-to-BSN programs, Vess said.
“It’s our mission to provide an affordable and accessible pathway,” said ACC president and CEO Richard Rhodes. “I’m proud of the work that has gone into developing this important program. It’s going to build the nursing pipeline in Central Texas and help lift thousands of nurses to the next level in their careers.”
The degree plan must now receive approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Texas Board of Nurses, and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Trustees also approved a proposed Associate of Science in Emergency Management degree. The program prepares students for careers in Emergency Management.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for emergency management directors in Central Texas is expected to increase 22 percent through 2027.
Both programs will be funded by the ACC's 2014 bond referendum.