A&M International Announces Partnership with Mercy

The critical need for professionally qualified nurses was addressed by Texas A&M International University through an innovative partnership with Mercy Health System of Texas announced Tuesday, July 28 in the University's Great Room in the Killam Library.

Dubbed " A Partnership for Nursing Excellence," the Mercy Health System of Texas partnership with A&M International will provide faculty and student support for a full-fledged four year Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) program at the University's Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing.

Mark Stauder, president and CEO of Mercy Health System of Texas, explained the support comes in the form of a gift of $450,000 to recruit and retain nursing professors and $425,000 in grants and scholarships.

University president Dr. Charles Jennett said the private-public partnership reinforces the University's commitment to providing high-quality professional nurses able to serve the health needs of the border region.

"This area is currently experiencing an acute shortage of professionally qualified nurses. That shortage is well-documented and is predicted to be long-lasting. Local hospitals have been forced to import staff from Canada, the Philippines and other areas of the United States to begin to address this shortage. This program will provide this community with a means of producing the qualified professionals necessary to direct and deliver our health care efforts," Dr. Jennett explained.

Stauder concurred, noting that the partnership is a win-win effort for all partners involved and will assure the community stronger medical care continuity and economic stability as BSN graduates take their place in the Laredo workforce.

"We think this is a powerful way to register our support for the University's programs in nursing and provide much needed financial support, " he explained.

Kristin Palmer, vice president of patient care services for Mercy Health System of Texas, added that the supervised clinical experience for student nurses addresses the critical local shortage of qualified Bachelor's degree nurses.

"We believe we're opening the doors to a much brighter future for the nurses of Laredo and those who aspire to be nurses," Palmer explained.

The Mercy Health System of Texas funding will allow the University to expand its BSN program to incorporate freshman and sophomore levels.

The partnership provides faculty support, essential to building a new program, as well as creative student scholarship support that offers students the opportunity to develop an ongoing, long-term relationship with Mercy Health System of Texas, develop and improve their nursing competencies and receive financial support from the Medical Center while completing their studies.

One innovative aspect of the partnership is the provision of a faculty/student summer externship program at Mercy Regional Medical Center following the sophomore year. Students will be given a stipend for 20 hours a week of work under the guidance and supervision of faculty of the Canseco School of Nursing. Upon completion of this externship, students will be eligible for continuing employment at Mercy Health System of Texas during completion of their studies toward the BSN degree.

Under the expanded program, A&M International nursing students pursue professional nursing courses based on knowledge of physical, biological and social sciences, the humanities, and communication skills.

Upon successful completion of prescribed freshman year course work, including prerequisite science courses, students are eligible for admission to the Canseco School of Nursing for clinical nursing course work.

Clinical nursing courses emphasize culturally appropriate, expert clinical nursing preparation in all clinical specialty areas, as well as a strong foundation in border health issues and community empowerment.

Dr. Susan Baker, Director of the Canseco School of Nursing, said the effort will positively augment all local efforts to supply needed RNs.

"The estimated need for new RNs to support the Laredo community alone is 100 per year. Together, A&M International and LCC hope to meet much of that need and decrease the necessity of importing nurses from outside the region who may not even be able to communicate effectively with patients," Dr. Baker said.

She noted that in addition to the expanded four-year program, the University's popular BSN completion program will also continue.

For more information about "A Partnership for Nursing Excellence," or enrollment assistance at the Canseco School of Nursing, please contact Dr. Baker at 956.326.2574, visit offices located in Canseco Hall 315 or email to sbaker@tamiu.edu.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu