published Monday, February 17th, 2014

Lee University nursing program gets state OK

The Tennessee Board of Nursing has approved Lee University's plan to offer a nursing degree program starting this fall.

In a news release, Lee President Paul Conn called the move an "important milestone" for Lee.

"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," Conn said.

University officials traveled to Nashville for the meeting Thursday. Preliminary approval was granted in May.

The bachelor of science in nursing program developed by Dr. Sara Campbell has a traditional four-year track and a one-year course for working registered nurses to earn degrees.

The first class is expected to include about 40 to 60 on the traditional track and 20 to 25 RNs. By 2018, the school of nursing is expected to have over 240 students, according to the release.

Dr. Carolyn Dirksen, chairwoman of the task force that developed recommendations for the program, told the Times Free Press last year that Lee did a feasibility study and officials believe the program won't compete for students with nursing tracks at Cleveland State, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Southern Adventist University or Chattanooga State.

For instance, she said, UTC has about 500 pre-nursing students, but only admits 40 each year to its nursing program.

In the news release, Dirksen called the news "a wonderful feeling."

"We've wanted to do this at Lee for a long time, but we had to make sure we were absolutely ready in terms of our infrastructure ... to offer a quality program."

Campbell holds the Ph.D. from Indiana University and has had a variety experience in nursing and nursing education. Before coming to Lee last year, 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, according to the release.

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