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ULM/LCTCS new agreement makes B.S. in Nursing more available and affordable

Published Dec. 3, 2021


University of Louisiana Monroe President Ron Berry, left, and Louisiana Delta Community College Chancellor Dr. Randy Esters shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding allowing students with an associate nursing degree from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System to transfer to ULM to complete their B.S. in Nursing degree.

Skylar Henry/ULM Photo Services


Program allows Louisiana Community and Technical College System graduates with an associate degree in nursing to transfer to ULM to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing online


In a move that could revolutionize the education and training of nurses in Louisiana, the University of Louisiana Monroe and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System have entered into a new agreement.


Now, graduates with associate nursing degrees from any of the 12 institutions affiliated with LCTCS can seamlessly and affordably transfer to ULM to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.


On Nov. 30, ULM President Ron Berry and Louisiana Delta Community College Chancellor Dr. Randy Esters, representing LCTCS, signed a Memorandum of Understanding creating the program.


This transfer degree pathway establishes that once a student successfully completes their Associate of Applied Science in Nursing or Associate of Science in Nursing, gets the remaining hours of general education courses equaling a total of 90 hours at any of the 12 LCTCS campuses and passes the National Council Licensure Examination for R.N.s, they are eligible for ULM’s online nursing program to complete the 30 hours required for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.


To make the program available to more students, ULM is offering the final 30 hours at a rate of $200 per credit hour.


The program was developed by a coalition of nursing faculty and administration. From LDCC, Dr. Wendi Tostenson, Vice Chancellor of Education and Student Services, Sherita Williams, Program Director for the School of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; from LCTCS, Dr. Wendi Palermo, Executive Director of Academics and Workforce; and from ULM, Dr. Don Simpson, Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Dr. Wendy Bailes, Director of the Kitty DeGree School of Nursing.


LDCC Chancellor Dr. Randy Esters said the agreement is the first of its kind between a U.L. System university and the LCTCS ­– and it was created in Ouachita Parish.


“This is a historic moment for all of us. This is a specific agreement for nursing, and it means graduates from any LCTCS nursing program can take all of their general education requirements at the community college, and they will transfer to the ULM BSN program,” Esters said.  “This strengthens the ‘bridge the bayou’ concept we talked and dreamed about.”


President Berry said when the program was submitted to the UL System Board of Supervisors, the positive reaction was immediate.


“One of our board members said, ‘Why haven’t we been doing this all along? This makes so much sense. Instead of having all of these multiple agreements, why not do something like this?’” Berry said.


“It is so good to have a partner that has a shared mission, a shared vision, which is serving the people of Northeast Louisiana. It’s about changing lives, about creating opportunities, about creating pathways,” Berry said.


Tostenson said the agreement means more nursing students will advance their degrees because they can do it affordably online.


“It offers our students from the community colleges to be able to bridge the bayou, and it doesn’t mean they have to move their family or their life. That’s so significant. These types of pathways will create long-term prosperity for our region,” Tostenson said.


ULM’s Bailes said the program addresses goals set nationally to educate nurses by removing barriers associated with rural, low-income, first-generation college students, cost, and awareness.


“We’re meeting the 2030 national healthcare education objectives of helping our students who have associate degrees to bridge into the BSN and eventually into MSN and further,” said Bailes. “This opens up opportunities. It’s never been done before.”


Williams said associate nursing programs started in the 1920s when a nursing shortage demanded nurses to be quickly trained and sent into the workforce. While the shortage of nurses remains, the profession prefers beginning nurses to have a BSN.


“As a nursing profession, we would like to have one entry level, a bachelor of science. We encourage our associate graduates to get their BSN within 10 years,” Williams said.


Returning to school for a BSN could be expensive and inconvenient, especially if the student works or lives in a rural area without easy access to a college campus. The MOU changes those challenges by offering the BSN entirely online.


Monty Sullivan, President of the LCTCS said the agreement "will change the trajectory of not only nursing students but the trajectory of the entire nursing profession throughout the state of Louisiana. The fact that student at an LCTCS college who earns an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing or an Associate of Science in Nursing can now transfer to the University of Louisiana Monroe and pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is transformative workforce development for the field of nursing. Couple that with the program being delivered online increases access for students who may otherwise not have been able to attend ULM and earn a BSN. Kudos to the leadership and nursing faculty at both institutions for collaborating to answer the call of the healthcare industry to produce for more skilled nurses.”