EPCC, Hunt School of Nursing agreement expands career opportunities for El Paso nurses

By 2030, West Texas is predicted to be 5,162 registered nurses short of meeting demand, according to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies. Thanks to a new partnership between El Paso Community College (EPCC) and the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, both sides are committed to meeting that need independently, as well as collaboratively.

In an effort to ease that shortage of nurses in West Texas, EPCC and the Hunt School of Nursing have announced a concurrent enrollment agreement.

The collaboration offers students an efficient way to pursue a nursing education by tying together early-college coursework in high school, the associate degree in nursing program at EPCC and the Bachelor of Science in nursing program at the Hunt School of Nursing.

“This partnership between EPCC and the Hunt School of Nursing not only provides students a solid academic experience that prepares them for a rewarding career in nursing, but it also ensures our region will have skilled nurses that can meet the health care needs of our community,” said Gail Meagher, EPCC dean of nursing.

The program will create a seamless pathway allowing EPCC students to make a smooth transition into the Hunt School of Nursing’s bachelor’s program. “But even more importantly,” said Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie Woods, Ph.D., R.N., “The new agreement is part of a holistic, collaborative approach that can help guide students from high school to their bachelor’s degree and on to master’s and doctoral degrees. In short, it gives graduates improved career mobility.”

With the concurrent enrollment agreement, students working toward their Associate Degree in Nursing (A.D.N.) at EPCC can now begin to earn credit toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) at the Hunt School of Nursing.

Students at EPCC can complete up to six credit hours of the Hunt School of Nursing’s R.N. to B.S.N. program while they are enrolled in the community college’s associate degree program.

With agreements and assistance from area magnet high schools, EPCC, Project Arriba, Workforce Solutions Borderplex and hospitals, students have guidance and help along the path toward becoming nurses.

“This is not just simply an agreement with EPCC; it’s that all the pipelines that feed EPCC are now pipelines that feed the Hunt School of Nursing bachelor’s program,” Dean Woods said.

“This is a wonderful example of how we’ve tied the ends together across the community to benefit students and employers. If a student is advised early and moves through these well-articulated pathways, it conserves their financial aid and helps get them all the way through school without wasting time or money taking courses they shouldn’t. It’s about comprehensive support to get students all the way to a bachelor’s degree.”

Tonie Badillo, dean of Dual Credit and Early College High Schools at EPCC, said, “We are excited about this collaboration. One of the pathways our students will have starts in high school. By developing a very structured dual-credit crosswalk for motivated high school students, we have ensured all the college credits apply toward the B.S.N. This will save our students and their families time and money.”

Manny Santa Cruz, D.N.P., R.N., M.B.A., assistant dean of undergraduate education at the Hunt School of Nursing, said the collaboration between all levels of education will provide a clear road to becoming a nurse.

“This collaboration allows an interested student seeking a nursing career to begin their pathway as early as high school or community college,” Santa Cruz said.

“In high school, the student can begin taking college prerequisite nursing courses via dual-credit with El Paso Community College. And the community college student can take Hunt School of Nursing baccalaureate courses while simultaneously pursuing their associate nursing degree. The student no longer has to wait to graduate from high school or a community college to pursue their dream of becoming a baccalaureate-prepared registered nurse.”