COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M and Blinn College are coming together for a co-enrollment partnership for nursing students.
The program ASCEND (Aggie Student-Centered Express Nursing Degree) will allow students the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s in just one or two semesters after completing their associate’s.
“I wanted to grab all the people and applicants that didn’t make it into A&M because the competition is steep,” said Dr. Rebecca Burns, Clinical Assistant Professor/Program Coordinator RN to BSN, TAMU School of Nursing.
“It’s very rigorous — it doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of being a nurse or attending A&M, but this provides a different path for them to do that.”
Ashly Ortiz is a wife and mother, and Blinn nursing student, originally from El Paso, Texas. Ortiz says Blinn nursing is everything she had hoped it would be, and that this partnership is not only saving her time, but also money.
“I do want to advance my career pretty fast, so being able to get that BSN just a semester after is saving so much time,” Ortiz said.
Dr. Burns says the co-enrollment aims to lower costs for students.
“They can attend Blinn, and through this co-enrollment, they can finish in about the same amount of time as if they went traditionally through our program,” Dr. Burns said.
Creating an easier route to A&M admissions ensures that future nurses will be prepped and ready to enter the field in less time.
“We could not only boost our enrollment, but get nurses out into the community and get them working,” Dr. Burns said.
Sierra Perez is in her first year of nursing school at Blinn, and she says saving money is key.
“I had actually applied to A&M’s nursing school — their traditional BSN track —and got in, but decided to go with ASCEND because of the money aspect,” Perez said.
Perez works 20 hours a week on top of nursing school — to help fund her education.
“I’m paying for everything on my own right now, — and I could work the traditional 40 hours and get my stuff done, but when you’re in nursing school that is not really possible,” Perez said.
Now with this fast paced option, Perez is motivated to finish.
“Knowing that I’m working towards my future and my career and going through our clinicals and really enjoying what I’m doing just makes it all worth it,” Perez said.
“We had so many that left the profession because of COVID and because they were burnt out — and that just can’t happen. We need nurses,” Dr. Burns said.
This partnership was all about finding paths to reduce student barriers, and to help fill the gap in nursing shortages.
“They are so excited because they thought they would have to finish,” Dr. Burns said.
“They thought it was more of a step process, and this way they can use their off time — they are off during the summers at Blinn — so they can attend here full time.”
The first admits in the ASCEND program will start this summer. By May 2025, the first group of Blinn nursing students will graduate from Texas A&M with their BSN degrees.