The Woodlands area higher education sites scale up health care offerings

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In response to health care industry growth in The Woodlands area, Lone Star College System and Sam Houston State University are expanding their offerings for skilled nurses in the area.

Dwight Smith III, LSCS vice chancellor of student success, said the college system is adding a new nursing bachelor’s degree program in 2020. The program comes from talks with partners in the health care industry, he said.

“Many of the hospitals are seeking magnate status, which requires that a certain percentage of their nurses have a bachelor of science in nursing degree,” Smith said. “By offering this degree, we would be addressing a workforce need.”

The college system is still in the process of receiving accreditation for the program from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the state board of nursing.

Once the program becomes official, it will be directed toward full-time students who are looking to enhance their skills, with course work in the evenings and weekends offered for nurses who are currently working. To begin the program, students are required to already be a registered nurse. The courseload will involve around 15 credit hours each semester.

“Those that are considering nursing as a career probably should begin to factor in how a BSN would fit into their career plan,” Smith said.

The baccalaureate in nursing is one of three bachelor programs being proposed at LSCS, with cybersecurity and energy manufacturing technology management also under consideration, he said.

The LSC-Montgomery campus in The Woodlands is among the campuses that offer a nursing program.

During the fall 2018 semester, Sam Houston State University merged its nursing program from Huntsville to The Woodlands Center, which has more study space, updated classrooms and is closer to five health care systems, according to SHSU’s website.

“We are poised for future growth to meet the demand for registered nurses,” School of Nursing Director Denise Hill said. “By one source … the demand for Texas alone will increase by 33 percent by 2024.”

SHSU also offers online courses for working registered nurses to seek a nursing degree, with full-time and part-time courses available.

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