Nursing school launches accelerated 12-month program

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Oct. 24, 2008
By Sommer Ingram
Staff Writer
To help address the shortage of nurses in the field, Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing will use a grant from the Deerbrook Charitable Trust to launch an accelerated nursing program.

The nursing program, called the Fast Bacc, is for students who already have bachelor’s degrees in another field. The grant totals almost $1.2 million over a three-year period.

“We have noticed a lot of students who really aren’t sure what they want their life’s work to be,” said Dr. Judy Lott, dean of the nursing school. “So they go and get a degree that doesn’t really prepare them for what they end up wanting to do. The receipt of this grant will help us to educate more students, and we see this as really being a part of Baylor’s overall mission.”

The program will begin in the summer of 2009 at the nursing school.

These enrolled “second-degree” students will finish the nursing program in 12 months, while it takes regular students two years to complete.

“I’m excited,” said Nan Batten, coordinator for the Fast Bacc program. “This program gives us the opportunity to meet the needs of our community and to attract a group of students that we might not necessarily get otherwise, and with the major shortage of nurses, this helps us to get more nurses into practice in a shorter time.”

Because the program is geared toward students who will already have a degree, they should be able to handle the accelerated pace, Lott said.

“These students have already been successful in getting one degree,” Lott said. “They know what it takes to succeed and are very motivated to do what it takes.”

Batten said she looks forward to the assortment of students the program will attract.

“This gives us opportunities to develop new teaching methodologies,” Batten said. “One of the things we’ll be looking at is hybrid classes, and we have a beautiful new simulation lab to help with this. This population of students will really benefit from different teaching strategies. They truly are going to be adult learners.”

The nursing school is placing an increased emphasis on meeting the needs of the aging patient population, an area called geriatric nursing, Batten said. The focus of the grant is, in part, to enhance the geriatric curriculum through new technology and additional resources.

“We have a geriatric course right now, but we want to emphasize pieces of that course throughout all rotations of their studies,” Batten said. “We are seeing a whole change in our health care needs. We need to be keeping people healthier for longer, and not just practicing disease management, but combating the causes.”

As medicine continues to change, nursing schools work to keep up.

“Medicare is not going to be the only answer to health care problems as health care costs continue to rise,” Batten said. “We need to educate our nurses more, educate our families more.”

After the grant period runs out, the nursing school plans to keep the program in operation, Lott said.

“We’ve got a lot of great things happening here,” Lott said. “It will allow us to improve the curriculum not only in the Fast Bacc program but also in our traditional baccalaureate program to help meet the needs of the community and the university.”

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