Graduates of UTHSC accelerated nursing program enter front lines of pandemic

UTHSC Accelerated Program grads start career during a pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - An accelerated nursing program that started in 2019 is now producing nurses who have started their careers in the middle of a pandemic.

WMC Action News 5 spoke with the director of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center program.

Earning a BSN in a year, that’s what UTHSC’s current round of applicants will do once they complete the accelerated nursing program.

It’s second degree. So, they already have a bachelor’s degree in another field,” said Dr. Randall Johnson, Program Director, UTSHC Accelerated Nursing Program.

Johnson said applicants for fall 2021 are currently undergoing the interview process.

If accepted, they’ll begin a process that will prepare them to start working right away.

“We teach everything from basic care all the way through and we actually have an acute care course. We teach conceptually,” he said.

Upon graduation, students must pass the NCLEX to receive their license.

The program’s first graduating class all passed the test on the first try.

Students who have already graduated from the accelerated program have entered the front lines of the pandemic.

If they can get to a point where they’re prepared to manage someone who’s in cardiac or pulmonary arrest, that’s kind of our big goal.

Six weeks into the accelerated program and students begin clinical hands-on learning.

The pandemic paused that portion of the course when there were concerns over PPE availability in early 2020.

Johnson said clinicals have resumed and students have trained in local hospitals, some of which they end up working in once they graduate.

“We do get applicants that come in and they’re like, ‘I just love LeBonheur’ or ‘I really came here to get a job at St. Jude,” said Johnson.

UTHSC is now accepting applications for January 2022.

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