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TCC : Our College : Our Leadership : President's Blog

Moving Forward with an RN-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

10/22/2013

It was January 21, 1964 when an official request was made to conduct a survey to determine if there was a need for a two-year junior college in the Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden county area. Two years later, Tallahassee Community College, then known as Tallahassee Junior College, opened its doors.

TCC District Board of Trustees Meeting 10-21-13Yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting marked another important milestone in our history – I brought to vote and the Board approved a measure to move forward with the development of a proposal for adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for those who already have an Associate in Science in Nursing. I brought it forward because I believe the timing is compelling and the three objectives we set for ourselves at the beginning of this discussion have been met: 

It is good for our students. 

One of our College’s primary missions has always been to provide a high quality, affordable learning environment. I place great value in that. No degree we offer should be financially inaccessible. Our research shows our College can offer an RN to BSN program with no substantial increase in tuition. With facilities already in place at the Ghazvini Center, virtually no new resources would be needed and start-up costs can remain low. 

We also researched retention rates, licensure rates, optimal class times, degree path – all aspects of the student experience in a new nursing program have been vetted. Finally, we reached out to our current students, alumni and community to see if this is something they wanted. The response was an overwhelming, resounding ‘YES.’ 

It is good for our community. 

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare President and CEO Mark O’Bryant spoke at the meeting yesterday on the value of our graduates at TMH, and how their education, qualifications and confidence in their practice make them preferred hires. However, in three years’ time their hospital’s Nurse Residency Program will require baccalaureate degrees. Regardless of how notable our current grads are, they would have been excluded. I am glad to say we will not be turning our backs on them. 

@GoToTCC Facebook Screenshot on Four-Year DiscussionIn addition to TMH, I was contacted by other local healthcare organizations such as Capital Regional Medical Center, Westminster Oaks and the upcoming VA hospital, and they have expressed similar sentiments. The need is there. They are ready for us to meet it. Of course, I also did not move forward until many discussions and planning meetings were conducted with our University Partners to ensure that our forward momentum would not interfere with their programs’ success. Our goal was always to create growth opportunities, not a competitive environment. 

It is good for our College. 

Relevancy is a priority for any higher education institution.  The writing is on the wall in the Florida College System with 24 of the 28 institutions having already begun adding four-year programs. A paradigm shift is happening. All the same, being at the front of the pack is less important to me than fiscal stewardship so we ran the numbers to make sure a new nursing program would be financially viable. Happily, our research shows that a baccalaureate degree in nursing would bring in significant revenue, a welcome concept in lean budget years. State legislature has also already committed a total of $30 million to expand baccalaureate degrees in Florida, funds we would not have been eligible for without the Board’s decision yesterday. 

Moving this initiative from idea to vote has assured me of just how much our Trustees love our College, something I was already well aware of. We’ve had many good conversations and I respect all sides greatly. 

Now that the decision has been made, the real work begins. At this point, it is premature to talk about changing the name. If our proposal is approved, then we will have to entertain that conversation. We’ve got a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot over the coming months and years. However, I fully anticipate this process will go smoother than most would think. Demand-driven initiatives tend to do that, in my experience. All are welcome to leave any comments or questions on my Facebook page at facebook.com/jimmurdaugh, or join us at our next Strategic Plan event on October 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Gadsden County.

Jim​​​


A college is more than a collection of buildings or an online presence. A college is a community—a group of people with the same goal: to learn and to prepare for the future. And a great college is more than just a destination—it is a partner in the success of each student.

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