Fairfield Heads to Texas

Fairfield Heads to Texas

New facility of Egan school in Austin, Texas

Fairfield Egan’s expansion into Texas will address critical nursing shortages in the region

The Egan School plans to open its doors in Austin to meet the demand for more nurses

Over the last few years, America’s brave and perseverant nurses have been applauded for their heroic work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, amid the aftereffects of the pandemic, nurses are making headlines once again: this time because of the critical nursing shortage occurring across the nation. The effects of the pandemic, combined with baby boomers reaching retirement age and more people seeking medical treatment through the Affordable Care Act has created an imbalance between the supply and demand for nurses.

The scale of the demand is staggering; according to The Boston Globe, citing a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be as many as 194,500 job openings each year over the next decade for registered nurses. The New York Times recently reported that the “nation’s chronic shortage of registered nurses is as bad in some parts of the country as it has ever been, experts say, and it is showing signs of getting worse.”

To address the demand for nurses nationally, the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies’ highly regarded Accelerated Second Degree Nursing (ASDNU) program is preparing for a major expansion — to the bustling city of Austin, Texas*.

The expansion of Fairfield’s nursing programs into the Southwest reflects the evolution and innovation of the University’s academic programs nationally, and will generate a pipeline of nurse graduates to address nursing shortages in the region.

A 23,040 square-foot Austin property located at 7951 Shoal Creek Boulevard is being remodeled to mirror the facility on Fairfield’s Connecticut campus. The new location will have classrooms and several simulation labs, including a simulated intensive care unit and a surgical suite.

The first cohort of 20 to 25 ASDNU students will begin in May 2023, with a second cohort to enter the following January. Eventually, Fairfield Egan plans to expand degree programs at the satellite school, to include such offerings as the Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) in nurse anesthesia.

“Our job now is to get the word out about the strength of our program and promote the Fairfield name in a new area of the country,” said Egan Dean Meredith Wallace Kazer, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN.

Austin Classroom

Rendering of a classroom in the new Texas facility.

We had a list of criteria to help us determine the ideal location for the new school,” explained Dr. Kazer. “Competition from other nursing schools in the area, job availability, and high quality clinical placements were all things to consider. We worked with a consulting firm and they identified 10 potential cities. Engaging with clinical partners and holding alumni focus groups in these cities helped narrow it down from there.”

Ultimately, Austin, Texas met all criteria — especially clinical placement, which is often a challenge for universities. “Not only were we able to facilitate three excellent clinical affiliations there, we got an amazing reception,” said Dr. Kazer. At this time, Fairfield Egan’s Texas clinical partnerships include Baylor Scott & White Health, AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, and Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.

The Texas campus will feature Fairfield Egan’s full-time, 15-month accelerated second degree baccalaureate nursing program. At the completion of the ASDNU program, students will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to become registered nurses. The ASDNU program has been in existence at Fairfield Egan for more than two decades and is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

In the last several years, it has become a requirement for nurses to have a bachelor’s degree. The second-degree program provides a unique opportunity for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing degree in an accelerated format.

“There are nine institutions in Central Texas that offer nursing programs, but only two offer second-degree programs,” said Lucina Kimpel, PhD, MSN, RN, who was recently hired as the new director of the Fairfield Texas program.

“Patients are coming in today with multidimensional health issues, and nurses need to think critically,” she added. “We see patients who would have been in intensive care years ago. Hospitals now are asking nurses to get involved in evidence-based practice, and you need a bachelor’s degree to have that background.”

a simulation lab in the new Texas facility.png

Rendering of a simulation lab in the new Texas facility

Fairfield’s Clinical Student Coordinator Bonnie Anderson, MSN-Ed, RN, CNEcl is anticipating that a number of the students who will do their clinical training at Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, one of the three new partnerships, will stay on once they graduate and pass their licensing exams.

“Caring for our nation’s veterans has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Anderson said. “There are an abundance of healthcare professionals and ancillary staff in this organization who share this sentiment, and many have formerly or are currently serving in the armed forces themselves. This is part of what makes VA service unique. Knowing that you are giving back — to a population of patients who have given so much of themselves for us — is significant.”

The state of Texas, specifically, faces a critical nursing shortage. According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, the supply of registered nurses is projected to grow 30.5 percent (to 291,872 by 2032), leaving a deficit of 57,012 nurses, or 16.3 percent of the demand not being met. Working with Fairfield University, research consultant Huron Consulting found that the significant Texas nursing shortage in both urban and rural areas will continue without innovative interventions.

On what sets the Egan School apart from peer institutions, Fairfield-Texas program di rector Lucina Kimpel noted, “At Fairfield, our students witness first-hand the dedication our faculty have to each and every student’s personal development in life and their careers. The effects of an education at Fairfield extend long past graduation. As a Jesuit school, we value the notion of cura personalis, which I believe is a big distinguishing factor, teaching students the concept of care of the whole person.”

*The Austin, Texas Second Degree Nursing Program is pending
Texas Board of Nursing and NECHE app

Tags:  Egan School

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