Newswise — EL PASO, Texas — High school students interested in nursing have a fast track to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree thanks to a partnership between El Paso school districts and the Hunt School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. That means students like Kristian Campa will enter the medical field as a nurse much sooner compared to traditional nursing programs.
“It’s always been my dream to enter the health care field and be a beacon of hope in the community,” said Campa, a graduate of Maxine Silva Health Magnet High School in Central El Paso. “Thanks to TTUHSC El Paso and Silva Health Magnet High School, I can accomplish my goals even sooner than I anticipated.”
The Hunt School of Nursing has partnered with the El Paso, Canutillo, Socorro and Ysleta school districts for the nursing school’s pipeline program, which offers high school students an opportunity to graduate with a B.S.N. just 16 months after high school graduation by completing all prerequisites their freshman and sophomore years, then entering the nursing program earlier than traditional students.
The impact of pipeline programs like this is significant — much-needed nurses join the region’s workforce two years earlier than traditional students, and students access higher-paying jobs at a young age without student loan debt, setting them and their families up for a successful future.
The Hunt School of Nursing features a curriculum for interprofessional education, preparing its students to work in clinical teams alongside various health care professionals, and has an active partnership with local hospitals, including job placement after graduation.
“The outcomes from a program like this are tremendously positive,” said Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie L. Woods, Ph.D., R.N. “Allowing a high school student to complete their prerequisites for nursing school while in high school is a game changer, and the impact is significant. These highly motivated students will have a clear path to economic success and our community will have more nurses reducing shortages by serving in our community.”
Decreasing the nursing shortage
Even with more than 4.3 million registered nurses across the country delivering care, the nation continues to face a shortage of registered nurses — up to 20% in some parts of the country. In Texas, the shortage is projected to continue and increase through 2030 as the baby boomer generation retires from the workforce and the state’s population grows. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the maturing labor force and current health care demands will create a total of 194,500 openings for registered nurses every year until 2030.
Before the establishment of the Hunt School of Nursing nearly 12 years ago, El Paso County faced a 40% shortage of nurses compared to the national average. Since opening in 2011, more than 1,140 nurses have graduated from the Hunt School of Nursing, with a vast majority staying in the region. As a result, the number of registered nurses in the county has increased by 45%.
Economic and other benefits of early admission
Because most nursing graduates remain in the area, the Hunt School of Nursing is making a significant impact on the region’s nursing shortage. Early entry into their career and a path to economic success early on is a victory for nurses, their families and our Borderplex economy.
Nationally, registered nurses are well compensated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a median salary of $73,000 per year, or a little more than $35 an hour, and registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing have higher long-term salary growth potential. A salary survey reported by NurseJournal.org reports they also earn an additional $15,000 in annual salary on average compared to registered nurses with associate degrees.
For high school students enrolled in the nursing pipeline program, salary advantages come even quicker, especially when students complete their prerequisites with no personal expense before graduating high school. They also preserve their financial aid and avoid accruing student loan debt while in nursing school.
Campa said the biggest benefit he received from the Hunt School of Nursing’s pipeline program was the hands-on experience and connections he made along the way to nursing school.
“The program allowed me to connect and network with future employers, and teachers and students at TTUHSC El Paso, which has been my dream school since I can remember,” said Campa, who narrowed his sights on nursing after seeing how nurses cared for his ill grandmother. His focus was exemplified during the global health crisis brought upon by COVID-19. “Hearing and witnessing heroic acts by nurses inspired my pathway into nursing. Seeing selflessness and genuine care for patients truly drew me to the field of nursing.”
About the Hunt School of Nursing
The Hunt School of Nursing opened in 2011 with the mission of providing educational opportunities for Borderplex students, while also combating the local nursing shortage. The school offers R.N. to B.S.N and M.S.N. degree programs, and is the only accelerated program in the region where students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in just 16 months.
The Hunt School of Nursing has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation, helping to fill the critical need for nurses. The school’s curriculum also prepares students for leadership positions in hospitals and clinics.
Currently, 87% of students at the Hunt School of Nursing are El Paso natives.
About Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
TTUHSC El Paso is the only health sciences center on the U.S.-Mexico border and serves 108 counties in West Texas that have been historically underserved. It’s a designated Title V Hispanic-Serving Institution, preparing the next generation of health care heroes, 48% of whom identify as Hispanic and are often first-generation students.
Established as an independent university in the Texas Tech University System in 2013, TTUHSC El Paso is celebrating 10 years as a proudly diverse and uniquely innovative destination for education and research. According to a 2022 analysis, TTUHSC El Paso contributes $634.4 million annually to our Borderplex region’s economy.
With a mission of eliminating health care barriers and creating life-changing educational opportunities for Borderplex residents, TTUHSC El Paso has graduated over 2,000 doctors, nurses and researchers over the past decade, and will add dentists to its alumni beginning in 2025. For more information, visit ttuhscepimpact.org.