Collin College is closer to securing authorization to offer a bachelor’s degree program for nursing students.
This Texas legislative session, Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, and Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, filed Senate Bill 1328 and House Bill 2251. Either, if passed, would allow Collin College the ability to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.
Both bills have been referred to the higher education committee in the Senate and the House, and are waiting for a hearing, Taylor said.
“This is something that the community really wants, and it makes a lot of sense for Texas,” Taylor said.
In 2003, a similar bill passed that allowed three community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees. In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3348 that established a pilot program to test a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene at Tyler Junior College. That program is expected to expire in 2019.
“This is a really difficult piece of legislation to get passed, but I’m going to keep fighting and making a push for it,” Taylor said.
Collin College President Neil Matkin said pursuing this degree program has been a high priority for the college, and being able to offer a four-year degree will help meet a great demand in the area.
“There is a pressing need for more nurses in our area, and providing a local option for completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing will help fill that need and contribute to a higher quality of life in Collin County for years to come,” Matkin said.
Brenda Kihl, Collin College executive vice president, said more hospitals are requiring nurses to have a baccalaureate
degree to achieve Magnet status, one of the highest levels of recognition a hospital can receive.
If the college were to offer the baccalaureate degree program, it would help keep nursing students in Collin County after they graduate, she said.
“The real goal is to help the hospitals and the doctors’ offices [in Collin County]have a larger number of baccalaureate degree nurses,” Kihl said. “Currently, there is not an institution in Collin County that’s able to degree nurses at the baccalaureate level.”
Donna Hatch, Collin College dean of nursing, said if Collin College could offer the baccalaureate degree, it would also be cost-effective for many of the nursing students. She said 90 percent of nursing students transfer to other universities, often outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to receive a bachelor’s degree. This can lead to mounds of student loan debt, she said.
“To be able to offer a baccalaureate program that’s feasible for students here for under $10,000 would just be incredible for our community,” Hatch said.
Collin College recently received its second designation as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education from the National League for Nursing. Last year, the college opened its 125,000-square-foot health science building in McKinney, which has classrooms and lab facilities with state-of-the-art equipment.
“Collin College has been an education crown jewel in our community, offering students an affordable entry in the health care profession,” Laubenberg said. “The college’s nursing program has consistently ranked in the top tier of all nursing programs both at the state and national levels.”