WT nursing program ranks above other universities as hospital staff shortage continues

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As the beginning of November may also mark the latest batch of state RAC and contract nursing staff leaving Amarillo hospitals, West Texas A&M University showed off the high ranking of its RN to BSN program and argued its value to the “wellbeing of the entire Texas Panhandle.”

In an early September COVID-19 briefing, Amarillo area hospital leaders discussed the many nurses that have left during the pandemic.

“We have had a large exodus of nurses, for different reasons, leave our community and either travel and work elsewhere, or…not work in the nursing profession any longer,” said BSA Health System’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Lamanteer. “Or not be able to provide the hours and shifts that they provided during the pandemic because none of that’s sustainable.”

Northwest Texas Healthcare System’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis, shared the same concerns.

“If COVID disappeared tomorrow, it would take it will take us years to replete the number of nurses that we have lost in the last 18 months,” he said.

However, WT backed up its nursing department’s previous claim that the program would continue to grow and supply the region with staff by addressing rankings across the country. WT’s ranked first in Online Bachelor Degrees’ list of the best online schools for bachelor degrees in nursing for 2021, beating multiple other large universities across the nation.

EduMed.org, said WT, gave the college top rankings in two programs. Further, WT ranked among the most affordable programs in the nation with its online masters of science in nursing and nurse practitioner programs.

WT reported that its nursing graduates have averaged a 97% score on the National Council Licensure Examination over the last five years, a test required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to test graduates’ competence. Nationally the average is 85% and in Texas, the average 87% is notably lower than that of WT students.

“Our Department of Nursing provides excellent education for students at reasonable costs to both students and the state, and we are grateful that our efforts are not going unnoticed,” said College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, “Ultimately, these rankings show our value not only to our students, but also to the wellbeing of the entire Texas Panhandle.”

The university has been given a list of recent honors and ranked among the top in the country for a range of programs, as well as campus safety. Other departments that have touted high rankings included plant science, emergency management, and theater.

WT’s Nursing Department Head, Dr. Holly Jeffreys, said the number of 2021-21 graduates was higher than any other single year in the last decade.

In a statement in early September, Dr. Jeffreys said, “We anticipate that our RN program will continue to grow and supply the Panhandle region with nurses. While nurses may be leaving the profession, we have a large number of qualified applicants and graduates willing and ready to serve.”

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