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Meeting the staffing needs of local medical facilities is a primary reason King University
chose to add a four-year nursing degree to its curriculum in 1999.
“An assessment was done in which personnel who ran health-related practices locally
were queried, and it was determined that a need existed for more nurse training,”
says Johanne Quinn, King’s dean of nursing and the individual who essentially developed
the school’s nursing curriculum.
Since then, King has continued to develop its School of Nursing, adding a registered
nurse-to-baccalaureate offering in 2003, a master’s in nursing in 2005, and a family
nurse practitioner degree in 2007. In addition, the school has made its registered
nurse-to-baccalaureate courses available as an online program.
While King graduated just six nursing students in 2001, it now awards diplomas to
150 nursing graduates twice each year.
“We’ve had 1,225 graduates since we started the department 14 years ago,” Quinn adds.
“Our students absolutely fill a need, and the good thing is that most of them stay
locally. We hear constantly how pleased the health facilities are with our graduates.”
Building partnerships with local hospitals to create teaching opportunities as well
as to provide clinical experiences for students is a significant part of the department’s
mission. To that end, the university has established partnerships with five major
healthcare systems within its geographic footprint – including Wellmont Health System
hospitals and medical centers, Mountain States Health Alliance, LifePoint Hospitals,
Covenant Health and Tennova Heathcare.
These partnerships are mutually rewarding, according to Micah Crews, King’s associate
vice president of enrollment management for graduate professional studies and online
“Our nursing programs offer what students need while also providing these systems
with the kind of medical personnel that they are looking for,” Crews says.
Wellmont Health System was the first hospital system to support King’s nursing program
mission and the relationship has endured more than a decade.
“We’ve enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the King University School
of Nursing,” notes Hamlin Wilson, Wellmont’s senior vice president of human resources.
“We have invested considerable resources in this program and work closely with the
faculty to provide on-site clinical experiences for their students, many of whom later
become Wellmont co-workers. We appreciate the opportunity to assist and are excited
to continue our collaboration with the nursing school to produce well-trained students
who are ready to enter the workforce.”
Although King’s nursing department was created primarily to meet local needs, it is
also helping alleviate a growing shortage of nurses that is spreading nationwide.
Tennessee alone is projected to have a shortage of 35,000 registered nurses by the
year 2020, which will meet only 53 percent of the projected demand for care.
“It’s important that a proactive stance be taken on issues such as the nursing shortage,
which is looming in our state and across the nation,” says Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron
Ramsey. “There is no question that partnerships established between higher education
institutions, such as King University, and healthcare entities are crucial to this
First District State Rep. Jon Lundberg, whose district includes the Bristol, Tenn.-based
university, echoes Ramsey’s sentiments.
“King has done what schools are supposed to do to meet workforce needs,” Lundberg
says. “They’re finding out what the local workforce needs and then developing programs
to meet those demands. In terms of their nursing curriculum, they’re not only providing
opportunities for nursing education but also helping to address a troubling nursing
shortage in our region.”
To better reach populations in its footprint, the university has expanded to establish
13 teaching locations, 10 of which are situated in Tennessee – including Knoxville
Significantly, research surrounding the nursing shortage has also pointed to a growing
need for more individuals who have four-year and advanced nursing degrees. Largely
due to the emerging baby boomer population, one report from the Institute of Medicine
called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce
to 80 percent and doubling the population of nurses with doctoral degrees. Currently,
only 50 percent of registered nurses hold baccalaureate or graduate degrees.
Crews believes King is playing an important role in its geographic footprint by focusing
on building its partnerships and continuing to expand its nursing department.
“We’re glad to be helping to address these shortages while also making sure that our
area healthcare systems have a good supply of nursing staff to fill their ranks,”
Notably, King has submitted a proposal to the Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools, the accrediting organization for institutions in the South, to add a doctor
of nursing practice degree in the near future.
King University is a Presbyterian, master’s-level comprehensive university. Founded
in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors and pre-professional
degrees and concentration in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health
sciences, pharmacy, digital media, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are
offered in business administration, education, and nursing. For more information visit
www.king.edu, call 800.362.0014, or email email@example.com.