TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough Community College (HCC) plans to meet the needs of the Tampa Bay area through expanding its programs and offering a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
Christina Gaddone is a student in HCC’s associate of nursing program. She said she was drawn to nursing by her grandma.
“She had a surgery and was in rehab, so I was taking care of her, and it really inspired me that the nurses were taking care of all these people that had this crazy thing happen in life, and I wanted to be one of those that could help others,” said Gaddone.
Potentially staying with the school and continuing on with her education in nursing at HCC could soon be possible.
“Hillsborough Community College is working to add a baccalaureate RN to BS completion degree here at the college,” said Marcellyne Penny, the Associate Dean of Nursing at HCC.
Recently, the State Board of Education approved HCC’s application to offer a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Penny said in February, they’ll put their application in to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the accrediting body for colleges in the southern region.
“Their board will meet, we expect in June, to receive approval for the baccalaureate program, which will give us permission to start our courses in the fall, so we’ll seat our first class starting in August,” said Penny. “Shortly after that, we will then place our ACEN application. That’s the accrediting commission for nursing education. That’s the key thing is not only is the college accredited to offer a baccalaureate program, but then the nursing program needs to be accredited as well.”
If approved, the BSN program would be HCC’s first bachelor degree offering in the college’s 53-year history. Penny explained this move is also in direct response to the needs in the community, pointing to a nursing shortage.
“One of the things that HCC is looking to do is to meet that need to fill that gap, but the other piece of that is we had been looking at this for quite some time,” said Penny. “Most of the accrediting bodies for hospitals put pressure on hospitals that you need to have more of your staff with a higher level of education. There’s a direct correlation to lower patient mortality and better patient outcomes to the more educated your nurses are.”
Penny said being able to get that bachelor’s degree means nurses are now an asset for a longer period of time for the community, while she says they are also able to provide an affordable alternative.
HCC students like Gaddone said they plan to stick with their field of study, even through a pandemic.
“I’m not scared of it, and it didn’t make me want to stop because now, there’s this even more need to help others,” said Gaddone.