Press Releases

University of St. Thomas to Launch 4 New Nursing Degrees with $3M DOE Grant


University of St. Thomas-Houston nursing
By Texas Medical Center | October 7, 2019

The University of St. Thomas’ Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing received a $3 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Title V Program to develop a Master of Science in Nursing degree programs in three specialty majors.

o Leadership
o Healthcare and nursing simulation
o Nursing education

The grant also provides funds to develop an RN – to – MSN track, providing an important access point for working nurses who have already obtained an Associate’s degree and wish to further their education.

“Over the next five years, UST plans to increase the numbers of professional Hispanic nurses with master’s level degrees,” Dr. Poldi Tschirch, dean of the Peavy School of Nursing, said.

Texas is now 40 percent Hispanic, but only 14.7 percent of Texas nurses are Hispanic, resulting in a barrier to equitable healthcare. Only 10.5 percent of graduate-level nurses in Texas are Hispanic, causing lack of mentors, role models and higher education faculty.

These degree programs will increase the number of Hispanic, underrepresented graduate students served by UST. St. Thomas has a diverse population of students and is designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the DOE, as well as an Asian-serving and Minority-serving Institution.

Both online and classroom-based programs will be offered. UST’s online course delivery will open the School of Nursing to applicants across the country.

Houston has a high demand for nursing professionals. The School of Nursing anticipates that by Sept. 2024 it will serve at least 776 students through the grant. As an outcome of this grant, UST plans to increase Hispanic graduate student enrolment by 42 percent (339 students) to 888 over a five-year period. It also aims to increase the graduate degree completion rate by 35 percent over a five-year period.

We believe that the addition of nursing programs online will extend our holistic philosophy and healing framework, and our contribution to nursing education and to the nursing workforce in our region,” Tschirch said.

• Develop online and classroom-based courses
• Create a Graduate Nursing Success Center to coach, advise students and provide cultural diversity training for faculty members.
• Enrich and upgrade technology and upgrade simulation mannequins.
• Provide Endowment Scholarships – $387,000 will be matched by private donors for graduate nursing scholarships.

“I think the fact that the integration of cultural diversity training as a service provided by the grant positions St. Thomas’ SON to meet the needs of a diverse student nursing population,” Tschirch said.

UST seeks licensed registered nurses who have earned an associate degree from a community college or a for-profit two-year school for the new RN-to-MSN program.

“These students would take Bachelor of Science in Nursing bridge courses, then go into one of three graduate majors and exit with a master’s degree,” Tschirch said. “This program will take three years of full-time study. The University will foster partnerships with community colleges to attract graduates seeking to advance their education as well as practicing RNs.”

The program implementation phase starts Oct. 1 and the first cohorts start in summer 2020. The grant program director is Dr. Poldi Tschirch, dean of the Peavy School of Nursing at UST, and Dr. Amaury Nora, a world-renowned researcher, and expert in Hispanic student performance in higher education will serve as the grant evaluator.

There are only nine universities in Texas and only one in the greater Houston area currently offering RN-MSN Programs for nurses with associate degrees. “it is UST’s goal to increase enrollment, retention and graduation rate in the Hispanic or underrepresented populations, particularly in nursing,” Tschich said.

This is the third Hispanic-serving or underrepresented populations DOE grant that UST School of Nursing has received in the last nine years.

• In 2010, UST received $3.2 million to open and develop the School of Nursing
• In 2016 UST received a $3.8 million to open a STEM Success Center. This grant helps increase the retention, graduation and transfer rates of Hispanic low income STEM and nursing students to UST.
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