Addressing nursing shortage, TESU enrolls record number (48) in latest Accelerated Bachelor’s cohort

Amid a persistent and ever-growing nursing shortage nationwide, Thomas Edison State University has announced a record enrollment of 48 students in its Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program’s May cohort.

The W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions welcomes three cohorts of aspiring nurses per year — many with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees — who cycle through the 15-month program while preparing to take the National Council State Boards of Nursing Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, also referred to as NCLEX-RN.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 193,000 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. The field of mental health nursing is most affected by this deficit. By 2025, the field is projected to be 250,000 professionals short of demand.

TESU President Merodie Hancock spoke on the work done to combat the shortage.

“The size of the incoming cohort reflects the role institutions like ours play in addressing the nursing shortage and meeting the increasingly complex health care demands of our communities,” she said. “What makes this milestone more significant is the number of students who represent racially diverse backgrounds. It underscores our commitment to building a more inclusive workforce and mirrors the rich cultural mosaic of the Trenton community, where many of our students will help deliver compassionate care and champion health equity as graduates.”

Furthermore, a $2.8 million grant in May 2023 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Nursing Expansion Grant Program aimed at diversifying the nursing workforce is ensuring that students from historically marginalized communities have a clear pathway to a nursing career. The funding targets the demand for psychiatric mental health nursing and provides generous tuition assistance programs for the university’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing students.

The university is also partnering with Capital Health and two other New Jersey hospitals — Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and Ancora Psychiatric Hospital — to help ease shortages across various mental health nursing positions. The Gloucester County Workforce Development Board and the New Jersey State Nurses Association round out the public-private partnerships supported by the grant as well as two community college pipelines, Mercer County Community College and Raritan Valley Community College.

Additionally, the school has a long-term educational partnership with Capital Health, in which many of the program’s pre-licensure students fulfill their on-ground clinical requirements. By taking advantage of an educational partnership the two institutions launched in 2005, Capital Health’s registered nurse employees can enroll in the school’s BSN or MSN and certificate programs at a discounted tuition rate. The collaboration maximizes the hospital’s tuition assistance program while offering nurses the opportunity to expand their qualifications or prepare for leadership positions.

Director of Clinical Education at Capital Health Christina Allen stated the significance of this collaboration.

“The partnership between Capital Health and TESU is a testament to our shared commitment to excellence in patient care and nursing education,” she said. “By providing hands-on clinical experiences in real-world settings, we empower future nurses to navigate the complexities of modern health care delivery with confidence and compassion. We look forward to continuing work with TESU to develop our future nursing workforce.”