May 9, 2014
WACO, Texas (May 7, 2014) – “You can do anything for a year.” That’s the adage adopted by students enrolled in Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing’s 12-month accelerated baccalaureate nursing program, known as FastBacc. In just three semesters – summer, fall and spring – students earn 62 credit hours and leave as registered nurses.
The coursework is intense. The model is rare. The results are tangible. “Eighty-five percent of our students are employed prior to pinning, and 99 percent have jobs by the time they have their license,” said Nan Ketcham, M.S.N., senior lecturer and program coordinator.
Training qualified health care professionals is key as the nation experiences a nursing shortfall. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), which is celebrating National Nurses Week May 6-12, “nurses will be more crucial than ever” as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.
Nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession, with nearly three million employed professionals. However, the federal government projects more than one million new RNs will be needed by 2022 to fill new jobs and replace RNs who leave the profession, according to the ANA.
Texas is no exception. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies shows that there are approximately 195,000 registered nurses in the state. Based on 2006 projections, by 2020, Texas will need nearly 100,000 more.
The FastBacc program is doing its part to fill the gap, Ketcham said, adding that in 2008 Baylor sought to create a program that meets the needs of those seeking a career change to nursing and provides excellent training in a relatively short amount of time.
“At the time, there were 15-month programs and 18-month programs in Texas, but there were no 12-month programs,” she said. “We knew that students would need to quit their jobs and devote the time to this and we wanted them back in the workforce as nurses as soon as possible.”
Next week, the program will graduate 37 students – including its 100th. Each year’s FastBacc class at Baylor is always full and there’s often a waiting list, Ketcham said. Classes are capped at 50-60 students due to the intensity of the curriculum.
“It’s definitely the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding,” said Adrienne Ferguson (B.A. ’05, B.S.N. ’13), a former social worker. She graduated in 2013 and now works as a nurse in the Level-1 trauma center at Baylor University Medical Center. “It’s over in 12 months and you wonder, ‘How did I do that?’” Ferguson said.
The pass rate for Baylor’s FastBacc graduates who take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses is 97 percent. The School’s overall pass rate (including those students who take the traditional B.N. coursework) ranks in the top 15 percent nationally.
Students range in age from 23-52, and all of them have completed bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing disciplines – everything from criminal justice and communications to accounting and art. “Every student had a different degree, but we all came to a point in our lives where we decided to go into nursing,” said Emily Sloan, a mother of six (with another on the way), who graduated from the FastBacc program in 2012.
Sloan is currently enrolled in Baylor’s Doctor of Nursing Practice, nurse-midwifery program. “Maybe we’ve had relatives or friends who benefited from someone in nursing and we wanted to be part of that,” she said.
Based on the program’s job-placement statistics, licensed graduates of the program have solid opportunities to advance to graduate school or land a job. For example, Ferguson knew in March that she’d have a job in the Baylor University Medical Center’s emergency room when she graduated in May. “Baylor absolutely prepared me for this,” she said of her position in the ER. “It’s a hard place to work, but I felt confident in the nursing skills I learned in school.”
Ferguson said her job’s physical proximity to the Louise Herrington School of Nursing allows her to stop by and consult with her former professors and, sometimes, get some much-needed words of encouragement. That attention from faculty and the University’s focus on faith made the difference for her. “They taught us how to take care of patients by the way they took care of us,” she said.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
ABOUT LOUISE HERRINGTON SCHOOL OF NURSING
The Baylor Louise Herrington School of Nursing was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the six degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees were awarded in 1954, establishing the school as one of the oldest baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States. In 1999, the School was renamed the Louise Herrington School of Nursing after Louise Herrington Ornelas, a 1992 Baylor Alumna Honoris Causa, made a $13 million endowment gift to the school. The School of Nursing offers a bachelor of science in nursing degree and a master of science in nursing degrees in advanced neonatal nursing, nursing administration and management, and family nurse practitioner programs, which are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The School also offers a nurse midwifery doctorate in nursing practice.