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Austin Peay to participate in online nursing degree program

September 2, 2003

With half the nursing faculty in Tennessee scheduled to retire in the next five years, the state's shortage of nursesalready at critical levelscould become even worse.

"There simply aren't enough faculty to teach the number of students interested in nursing," says Dr. Kathy Martin, director of the APSU School of Nursing. "We are turning away qualified students because we don't have enough faculty."

Austin Peay is not alone. Other Tennessee Board of Regents Schools are experiencing the same dilemma.
September 2, 2003

With half the nursing faculty in Tennessee scheduled to retire in the next five years, the state's shortage of nursesalready at critical levelscould become even worse.

"There simply aren't enough faculty to teach the number of students interested in nursing," says Dr. Kathy Martin, director of the APSU School of Nursing. "We are turning away qualified students because we don't have enough faculty."

Austin Peay is not alone. Other Tennessee Board of Regents Schools are experiencing the same dilemma.

To remedy the problem, deans and directors of the six TBR schools of nursing offering baccalaureate and higher degrees are working together to establish a master of science in nursing. The program will be offered via the Regents Online Degree Program beginning in Fall 2004.

Although the curriculum hasn't been finalized, the TBR expects to offer concentrations in nursing education, nursing administration, nursing informatics, nurse practitioner, holistic nursing and clinical nurse specialist.

A half-time coordinator has been appointed to provide leadership in the development and implementation of the program. Deans and directors of participating schools will serve as the executive committee of the consortium, and faculty from each of the six universities will develop the curriculum.

Though Martin says working with multiple constituencies to formulate plans, develop teaching models and meet accreditation standards may be challenging, the benefits to participating schools and students are significant. "Students will be able to choose from a menu of specialties, and though they'd be pursuing their degree at Austin Peay, they would be taking courses taught by faculty on any of the six campuses. That will allow us to offer expertise and specialties not necessarily contained on this campus."

Demand for the program is expected to be high, among new baccalaureate-degree holders as well as registered nurses who already are employed. "Every year we see a larger percentage of our students indicating they're interested in pursuing graduate work and going on to advanced practice," Martin says.

The TBR expects the online master's degree also will be of interest to registered nurses who want to expand their career horizons. "There's greater awareness of advanced nursing practice and of the many different opportunities for the master's-prepared nurse," Martin says. "The career choices are vast."