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UT Tyler, LeTourneau form nursing partnership

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It's estimated there is a shortage of 2,200 registered nurses in the state of Texas. CBS 19's Hayley Wielgus tells us about a unique partnership between two East Texas universities. It will help address that shortfall, and graduate highly qualified medical professionals.

It's a partnership that's the first of its kind in the state of Texas.

UT Tyler is joining forces with LeTourneau University in Longview to offer dual degree programs in health sciences and nursing.

"The graduates of this program will carry the knowledge they acquire from the expert faculty at both LeTourneau and UT Tyler to the communities across the state and beyond the boundaries of the United States," said Dr. Rodney Mabry, President of UT Tyler.

By utilizing UT Tyler's Longview campus, students will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in health sciences from LeTourneau and bachelor of science in nursing from UT-Tyler, in just four years.

"We have many, many students who are interested in nursing that are also interested in a Christian higher education experience, so now we can put those two together. We're confident we're going to be able to recruit a significant number of students," said Dr. Dale Lunsford, President of LeTourneau University.

"Having the dual degree will also be a bigger asset to them because they will have knowledge not just in nursing, but in a broader knowledge of health sciences and how the impact of this can influence health care," said Dr. Pam Martin, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Nursing Programs.

Martin is the associate dean of undergraduate nursing programs at UT-Tyler.

She says the new dual degree plan will allow the university to graduate more registered nurses, which will help reduce the statewide shortage.

"There are tens of thousands of applicants every year who don't get admitted because schools just don't have the capacity of admitting everyone that applies."

Martin says many nurses in Texas are reaching retirement, and this program will help produce younger, qualified nurses to fill those gaps.

Pending accreditation approval, the program will begin this fall. It's a rigorous program that will include summer course work.

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