Tuesday, September 16, 2014




UHV School of Nursing needs transfusion to remain alive in Victoria

By Carolina Astrain
July 12, 2014 at 2:12 a.m.
Updated July 13, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.

Several rooms designed as a typical hospital screening station are sandwiched between classrooms at UHV, where students can go from a lecture to a simulated emergency using diagnostics found in most hospitals. The University of Houston nursing program recently received a  205,000 grant from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation to purchase state-of-the -art equipment and fund scholarships.

UH SYSTEM PLANS FOR UH SUGAR LAND

In December 2013, the University of Houston System announced it would commit to turning the UH Sugar Land campus into a branch campus.

• UH plans to launch 22 degree programs in Sugar Land and relocate a large part of its College of Technology to Fort Bend County.

•  As these programs are implemented, the University of Houston-Victoria and University of Houston-Clear Lake will cease their programs on the Sugar Land campus.

• The UHV School of Nursing, which is largely based in Sugar Land, will transfer to the UH Health Science Center and become part of UH's main campus.

• This transition is expected to take two to five years.

SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON SYSTEM

TIMELINE

Creation and development of the University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing:

2006 - Mary Virginia and Claud Jacobs begin a scholarship fund, the Florence Nightingale Nursing Scholarship Endowment, in memory of Virginia's mother, Florence Nightingale Mason, in February. The school's Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program receives the official stamp of approval by the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners in June under the leadership of Dr. Jeanette Hartshorn, former director of the program.

2007 - In May, the Texas Legislature grants approval for a $1.1 million special item request on behalf of the University of Houston-Victoria, which helped launch a Master of Science in Nursing Program at the UHV School of Nursing.

2008 - The School of Nursing receives approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The school holds its first pinning ceremony for 50 baccalaureate nurses in Katy. Kathryn Tart, who served as the baccalaureate coordinator for the Texas Woman's University nursing program at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, is named the school's first dean.The Second Degree Bachelor's of Science in Nursing program is approved by the Texas Board of Nursing. The M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation grants the school $205,000 for student scholarships and state-of-the-art Patient Care Simulation Center. The Fred and Mabel R. Parks Foundation of Sugar Land awards the school with a $10,000 grant for equipment at the Sugar Land campus.

2009 - The George Foundation donates $203,468 for a simulation center, similar to the one in Victoria, for the UHV School of Nursing students taking classes in Sugar Land.

2010 - The school holds its first honor society induction. Kathleen Reeve, a UHV endowed chairwoman for the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, works on developing a doctoral nursing program.Renu Khator, UH System Chancellor/UH President, makes a request on behalf of the UHV School of Nursing for the program to join the Texas Medical Center as an institutional member.

2011 - UHV signs a nursing student transition agreement with Victoria College, Lone Star College and Wharton County Junior College to encourage students with their associate degree to pursue their bachelor's degree at the university.The school begins to offer a dual-degree program with the UHV School of Business Administration. The Gulf Coast Medical Foundation approves a $20,000 grant for student scholarships at the UHV School of Nursing in Sugar Land.

2012 - The UHV School of Nursing joins the Texas Medical Center as its 53rd member. Denise Neill, nursing school faculty member, becomes president of the UHV Faculty Senate.Gary and Alice Childress, of Victoria, donate $1,000 to the UHV School of Nursing to start the Friends of Nursing to provide support to nursing students through events, scholarships, care packages and meals. Neill begins working on expanding the nursing school's Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program to Lone Star College University Center at Montgomery in The Woodlands.

2013 - UHV students are recognized as the best Texas university nursing exam passing rate. The Houston Endowment awards an $800,000 grant for the school's Master of Science in Nursing family nurse practitioner track.

2014 - UH System Board of Regents approve the transition of the portion of UH School of Nursing located in Sugar Land to the UH main campus within two to five years.

The University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing's days appear numbered.

For the school to survive at UHV, leaders will need to find a way to rebuild the school after 80 percent of its program has been absorbed into the University of Houston's main campus.

In December, the University of Houston System announced plans to develop a branch campus in Sugar Land, where the Victoria campus generates more than half of its revenue through its schools of nursing, business and education.

Of the school's 15 faculty members, 12 had offices in Sugar Land during the 2013-14 school year. One had an office in The Woodlands. The remaining two were in Victoria.

Robert Halepeska, vice president of the Victoria-based M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, offered a bleak assessment of the school's future in the city.

Since the school was founded in 2007, the foundation has given the UHV School of Nursing almost $1.7 million - 44 percent of total donations to the school.

"It's gone," Halepeska said. "We have to move on."

However, Bill Blanchard, CEO of the DeTar Healthcare System based in Victoria, said he recommends the UHV faculty find new leadership to sustain a nursing school based in Victoria to meet industry needs. Victoria College offers two-year nursing degrees. UHV has provided four-year degrees.

"We need people with advanced degrees to train nurses at Victoria College," Blanchard said. "We already have the continuum of nursing education here in Victoria. Let's leave it here."

Why the change?

The shift of the nursing school to UH is part of recommendations made by a Sugar Land Task Force to the UH System Board of Regents earlier this year.

Included in the recommendations, approved by the regents in February, was a promise made by the UH System to UHV to adequately fund its continued expansion and transformation into a destination university in Victoria.

"The abrupt seizure last spring of the UHV School of Nursing by the UH main campus was both unfair and underhanded," said former UHV President Phil Castille, who was ousted in part for opposing the change. "It amounted to cherry-picking an outstanding academic unit that UHV had borne all the risks, costs and effort to start up from scratch and develop into a strong program ranked by U.S. News and World Report in the best 300 nursing programs nationwide."

In 2013, UHV Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing students had the highest first-time nurse licensing exam pass rate for universities in the state at 97.3 percent.

When will it happen?

According to a June 4 UH System news release, Sept. 1 was the transition deadline for the transfer of the UHV School of Nursing located in Sugar Land to the UH main campus.

However, the system announced Friday afternoon that it had decided to delay the transfer of the school by one year - until fall 2015.

The delay was recommended by the Sugar Land transition team because of a delay in securing approval from the national accrediting authority, according to Richard Bonnin, UH director of media relations. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has accredited UHV's nursing school. The move of the school from one university to another - UH, in this case - would need to be approved, or the school would no longer be accredited.

As part of the Sugar Land Transition Team, the UH Work Group is tasked with handling the transfer of the UHV School of Nursing to UH's main campus.

The work groups are scheduled to provide a report in October.

Halepeska, who serves as a member of the UHV Work Group, said all funds and equipment, including the school's Patient Care Simulation Center, originally allocated to the UHV School of Nursing would be staying in Victoria.

"That's going to stay here," Halepeska said. "If someone is going to use it, it's going to be used in Victoria in some capacity - whether that's at UHV, Victoria College or one of the hospitals for training."

Why it matters

Four-year training is considered critical because 80 percent of nurses should hold a bachelor's degree by 2020, according to a 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine.

Victoria's two major hospital systems - DeTar and Citizens Medical Center - do not require their nurses to have a bachelor's degree upon application.

About a third of Citizens' registered nurses have a bachelor's degree, said Shannon Spree, the hospital's marketing director.

Blanche de Leon, a nurse at Citizens with a master's degree from the UHV School of Nursing, said she believes nurses with advanced degrees are more innovative and are able to think critically under pressure.

"A liberal arts education can help make nurses better problem-solvers," de Leon said.

In 2013, UH's main campus enrollment declined by 2.96 percent from the year before - the largest drop in enrollment among the seven major public universities in Texas: Sam Houston State University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas.

During the same time period, UHV's enrollment grew by 3.6 percent, according to data collected from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website.

"The UH main campus got itself a top nursing program on the cheap at UHV's and Victoria's expense and, so far, without any compensation," Castille said. "This is no way to run a system of higher education, and it was a matter of principle for me to oppose this bad deal."

How students will be affected

For students enrolled in the nursing school during the transition, the transition committee is developing a policy that would maintain tuition and fees at the UHV level until those students complete the program, UH System spokesman Bonnin wrote in an email.

UHV programs will be offered at the Sugar Land and Victoria campuses this fall. The faculty and staff who are part of the nursing program will be offered an opportunity to move if needed, Bonnin wrote.

"While future plans call for program expansion to include doctoral nurse practitioner programs, current programs will be taught in the same place," Bonnin wrote. "There likely will be immediate changes that affect staff as the infrastructure is transferred from UHV to UH."

Earl Smith, UH interim chief health officer, is chairman of the UH Work Group charged with determining the school's future.

"Our biggest concern is to ensure that faculty, staff and students come out of this situation in a positive fashion," Smith wrote in an email. "That means, among many other things, that students don't miss out on financial aid, and faculty and staff don't miss a paycheck."

UHV moving forward

Within the past two years, UHV has added several new degree programs, including a bachelor's of science degree in health studies, a master's of science in biomedical sciences, a master's of science in computer science and a master's of fine arts degree in creative writing.

The health studies program originally began as part of the UHV School of Nursing but was transferred to the UHV School of Education and Human Development in June.

"UHV already has more than 50 students enrolled in this new degree area and expect it to be a high-enrollment, high-demand field of study with immediate employment opportunities throughout the region," UHV Interim President R. Vic Morgan wrote in an email. "Also, nursing courses will continue to be available in Victoria at UHV next school year."

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