By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
In response to the higher demand for nurses with college degrees, Texas A&M University-Commerce opened the doors to its new bachelor nursing degree on Nov. 19.
A&M-Commerce President Dan Jones said he didn’t realize how difficult getting a nursing program certified.
“Getting a nursing program started is not easy business,” he said. “I was a little bit peeved and frustrated about it, then I thoughT I am a current and prospective customer of nurses and was encouraged at what it takes to get a program.”
Jones said this program will fill a great need in East Texas.
“There is a need out there in rural Texas,” he said. “Our goal is to provide highly qualified individuals for all of the workforce.”
Barbara Tucker, director of nursing at A&M-Commerce, agreed with Jones, and added statistics showing how the community would benefit.
“The East Texas region has a 9.1 percent nurse vacancy rate, making it the highest nursing vacancy rate in the state,” she said. “This will be such a benefit to the region.”
According to Tucker, this nursing degree will translate to patients receiving higher quality care in local hospitals.
Cheryl McKenna, assistant professor at A&M-Commerce, said this is the culmination of hard work and dreams fulfilled.
“This has been in Dr. Jones’ mind since he came as president of the university years ago,” she said. “Dr. Tucker and I came last August and wrote the proposal for the degree. We got it approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and SACS committee.”
McKenna said it took some effort to get accredited, and said that the real work can begin.
“We completed one big hurdle and now we begin building the program,” she said. “We will have 30 students in January. Now the work begins.