It’s been about a year and a half since our trustees approved a measure to develop a proposal for a much-needed Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Tallahassee Community College, and just over a year since a moratorium was put in place by the Florida Legislature to halt all new degree programs in the Florida College System.
With the moratorium soon expiring, we have much hope we will be able to proceed with our proposal and meet the needs of our regional healthcare providers.
Until this past year, TCC has not been interested in baccalaureate programs. With two distinguished public universities next door, five private partner colleges and universities on our main campus and an effective 2+2 program state-wide, we offer a robust array of transfer opportunities for our students.
Why are we exploring a BSN program?
First of all, this BSN is not a four-year program. Rather, it would add the two years of nursing necessary to obtain the BSN on top of the two years of study we already offer students who obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing in order to become a Registered Nurse.
We are demand-driven and have a responsibility to local employers to meet their workforce needs. This effort began when Mark O’Bryant, president and CEO of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH), came to us regarding the hospital’s decision to pursue “magnet” status which included moving to a minimum of 80% of their nurses with bachelor’s degrees. I went to FSU and FAMU to discuss this and to assure them that we had no interest in competing with them if they could meet this need. Because they recognized they would not be able to meet the new demand with their existing programs and had no plans for expansion, they supported a new option at TCC.
We also have a responsibility to our alumni. The TCC nursing graduates at both TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center (CRMC) are highly regarded by hospital administrators. Our graduates who are employed as RNs will have a need for additional training. If they wish to earn a BSN, they would not be automatically accepted, and those who are would have to start over as freshmen. Furthermore, our graduates learn and earn right here in our district while FSU and FAMU graduates come here to attend school and often move home after graduation.
With a new BSN program, our current nursing graduates could return to TCC, retain their credits, finish their bachelor’s degree in two years and stay competitive in the workplace. Likewise, new students could take advantage of our excellent facilities and pursue a career in the growing local healthcare job market at institutions such as TMH, CRMC, Westminster Oaks or the new VA hospital.
For these reasons, we see a BSN program at TCC as a clear fulfillment of our College’s fundamental mission to meet regional workforce needs.
Our community partners and our educational partners both support a new program. I want to thank Senator Bill Montford for his tireless efforts to lift the moratorium. I also want to thank the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce for passing a resolution of support. We are ready to move forward.