Lee University received approval Thursday from the Tennessee Board of Nursing to proceed with its plans to begin a bachelor of science in nursing degree program. The decision allows students to be admitted to the new program this fall.
“What an important milestone this is for Lee University!” said Lee president Paul Conn. “This puts us on a path to achieve one of our most important institutional dreams: to prepare nurses who will work in Bradley County and around the world with a combination of superb training and a servant’s heart.”
The action by the board came during a meeting in Nashville. Lee was represented at the meeting by Dr. Sara Campbell, who arrived at Lee last fall to develop the program, and by Dr. Debbie Murray, vice president for academic affairs and Dr. Carolyn Dirksen, who has chaired the task force which made recommendations to develop the program. Lee had received preliminary approval from the board last May.
Lee plans to offer a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) that includes a traditional four-year track as well as a one-year track for registered nurses (RN) who are already working professionals, to earn bachelor’s of science degrees. The school plans to admit a freshmen cohort of approximately 40-60 for the traditional track and approximately 20-25 for the RN. The addition of another cohort of current Lee students interested in the nursing major is also being explored. When the four-year pipeline is full in 2018, the school of nursing will have over 240 students and a full cadre of faculty members. The nursing school will be located initially in the Math and Science Building with plans for a new building by the fall of 2016.
The development of nursing at Lee has been assigned to veteran nursing educator Dr. Sara Campbell, an experienced nurse who has over 15 years focused on the process of educating nurses.
Dr. Campbell, who holds the PhD from Indiana University, began her career helping out part-time at a nursing home. She later became a registered nurse and worked in a variety of areas including mental health, the emergency department and intensive care. As a nursing educator, she held academic leadership positions in Illinois and South Carolina before coming to Lee in 2013 to start the new program. Her latest position was as a dean of the School of Nursing and a professor of nursing at the University of South Carolina at Aiken.
A main goal for the program includes teaching future nurses to operationalize caring for vulnerable populations at any stage in the patient’s lifespan. The curriculum will also address how to take care of patients from a Christian worldview.