The St. David’s School of Nursing at Texas State announced a monetary gift Monday that will assist in plans for a new master’s degree.
Marla Erbin-Roesemann, St. David’s School of Nursing director, said St. David’s Foundation donated $2 million to help Texas State create a Master of Science in the nursing field. The gift will provide funding for hiring faculty, recruiting students and developing the curriculum for the next five years.
“It is a very substantial gift,” said Associate Provost Cynthia Opheim. “It means recruiting top-notch faculty and having the kind of facilities you need for this level of program.”
The $2 million gift is contingent on the university receiving approval of the master’s program from the Texas Board of Nursing and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Texas State University System Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board have already approved the program.
The master’s program will be a five-semester plan lasting 21 months for registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees. Erbin-Roesemann said the plan is to enroll 40 students this fall in the master’s program and graduate 38 nurse practitioners with a master’s degree per year.
Erbin-Roesemann said the theory portion of the master’s curriculum will be conducted online. She said the clinical component will include 600 hours of one-on-ones with nurse practitioners and physicians outside the classroom.
The program will have a focus on integrative nursing that includes acupuncture, herbs and other other non-traditional medicine, Erbin-Roesemann said. She said there are only three comparable master’s programs in the country that include these skills because most of what they will learn is included in doctorate plans.
“You typically don’t study these things, and these are skill sets they can use,” Erbin-Roesemann said. “More and more patients are asking for these practices.”
University President Denise M. Trauth released a statement that said St. David’s School of Nursing was founded to help address the shortage of nurses in Texas. She said the new Master of Science in Nursing program will help Texas State address one of the state’s most critical issues: a shortage of healthcare providers.
Texas has 95.6 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, as opposed to the national average of 121 per 100,000, the university said in a statement. The state is 42nd in the nation and would need an additional 6,387 primary care physicians just to reach the national average, Erbin-Roesemann said. However, Texas graduated 667 nurse practitioners in 2010.
Erbin-Roesemann said family nurse practitioners, such as those who will graduate with the master’s degree, can fill the gap because they can perform many of the responsibilities of a primary care physician. She said nurse practitioners can see patients with ear infections and strep throat, and do women’s health exams.
The St. David’s Foundation donated $6 million in startup funding for the nursing school in 2010, which graduated its first class in May 2012 with 82 nursing students. The nursing school is equipped with labs simulating critical care, medical, surgical and other units. Erbin-Roesemann said there are plans for a doctorate program in the 2015 fall semester.
Earl Maxwell, St. David’s Foundation CEO, said in a statement that “It has been a labor of love” to work closely with Texas State.
“We are very, very grateful to the St. David’s Foundation,” Opheim said. “This program would have been much more difficult to implement without their gift.”