UHD Nursing: First In Class
By Sheryl E. Taylor
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is answering the call.
Through an innovative partnership with Houston Community College (HCC), the University enrolled the first cohort of nursing students into its Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (RN to BSN) at UHD. The program offers a seamless, cost-effective degree plan that is achievable in minimal time—in two semesters.
“We feel the pressure. We have to do something,” said Dr. Linda Dune, director of the nursing program and associate professor of nursing.
The Texas Education Coordinating Board recognized that UHD’s nursing program model would fill a unique niche in the city while setting a precedent in the Texas Medical Center (TMC).
In fact, UHD’s RN to BSN students can study where they work... in the heart of the TMC at Houston Community College’s Coleman Campus.
“We’re able to admit students who normally would not have completed their bachelor’s degree (in nursing) and offer them a way to seamlessly earn a BSN without changing familiar classrooms or support. And, we are in the Texas Medical Center. We are right here where many of our students are working.”
According to Dune, the governing bodies in education, the AACN and magnet hospitals have found that patient outcomes are significantly improved if they are cared for by a BSN nurse. Students can be jointly enrolled in the program by attending community colleges to complete their associate’s degrees while simultaneously working on their core courses at UHD. The curriculum is designed so that the students may enroll in courses that provide a full-time BSN program with no more than three courses offered one day per week, which enables them to maintain a work-life balance. The BSN courses are taught by three UHD faculty members: Dr. Song Ge, Dr. Tyrone Sharp and Dune. In the near future, an online program option may be available.
As part of their experience, students do a Capstone project during their final semester. In their first year, students select and volunteer for a neighborhood agency of their choosing. Through their volunteering efforts, they learn about the needs of that chosen agency and create a plan in collaboration with the community entity. Upon graduation, these new nurses become agents within their own communities. In return, these community entities will recognize that these BSN nurses are already engaged in the community and may be available to provide for its health care needs.
“UHD’s mission and vision is closely aligned with helping communities, so we’ve developed a model that fits with our mission and vision,” Dune said beaming. “There aren’t enough nurses in the school systems, and there aren’t enough nurses matching the cultural backgrounds of patients within hospital settings. We are much more than just an RN to BSN nursing program, we are here for the community.”
The program not only meets a need in the industry and communities, it also provides more career advancement opportunities in the nursing field.
“The BSN is extremely marketable,” said Dune. “This degree offers career options for students in areas they’ve never done before. They may choose to remain at the bedside providing care to increase the patient progress through the illness continuum or become case managers, researchers, advance practice nurses, nurse practitioners and much more; their opportunities are varied and wide ranging.”
“We (UHD) are the new day,” Dune added. “This is just one of the UHD programs that provide bachelor’s degrees in the community where the students live and work.”
[Reprint from UHD Magazine Spring 2019: Great Name. Downtown Address.]
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.