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Pre-licensure Nursing Program Celebrates Record Enrollment Amid Nursing Shortage

W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions Accelerated BSN Program students collaborate in one of the School’s patient simulation labs.

W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions Accelerated BSN Program students collaborate in one of the School’s patient simulation labs.

The W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions at Thomas Edison State University (TESU) announced a record enrollment of 48 students in its Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program’s May cohort. The accomplishment occurs against the backdrop of a persistent and escalating nationwide nursing shortage.

Three cohorts of aspiring nurses per year – many with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees – progress through the 15-month program while preparing to take the National Council State Boards of Nursing Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

“The size of the incoming cohort reflects the role institutions like ours play in addressing the nursing shortage and meeting the increasingly complex health care demands of our communities,” said Merodie A. Hancock, Ph.D., president of TESU. “What makes this milestone more significant is the number of students who represent racially diverse backgrounds. It underscores our commitment to building a more inclusive workforce and mirrors the rich cultural mosaic of the Trenton community where many of our students will help deliver compassionate care and champion health equity as graduates.”

A hallmark of the Accelerated BSN Program is its graduates’ consistently high NCLEX-RN pass rates. This achievement emphasizes the dedication of TESU’s staff and clinical education partners and speaks to the School’s ability to prepare students to meet the field’s professional standards during the program’s abbreviated timeframe.

Central to this success is the School’s long-term educational partnership with Capital Health in which many of the program’s pre-licensure students fulfill their on-ground clinical requirements. This valuable and often symbiotic relationship extends across the School’s upper-level nursing programs. By taking advantage of an educational partnership the two institutions launched in 2005, Capital Health’s registered nurse employees can enroll in the School’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and certificate programs at a discounted tuition rate. The collaboration maximizes the hospital’s tuition assistance program while offering nurses the opportunity to expand their qualifications or prepare for leadership positions.

Christina Allen, DNP, Director of Clinical Education at Capital Health, underscores the significance of this collaboration, stating, “The partnership between Capital Health and TESU is a testament to our shared commitment to excellence in patient care and nursing education. By providing hands-on clinical experiences in real-world healthcare settings, we empower future nurses to navigate the complexities of modern health care delivery with confidence and compassion. We look forward to our continuing work with TESU in developing our future nursing workforce.”

Additionally, TESU recently announced a partnership with BAYADA Education and Cooper University Health Center. A new scholars track will offer students in TESU’s Accelerated BSN program dedicated clinical site experiences at Cooper, an academic, tertiary care hospital, and BAYADA Home Health Care. This collaborative approach is the first of its kind in nursing education. The University’s nursing students also fulfill their on-ground clinical requirements at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center, St. Peter’s University Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, Vitality Hospice, Compassus, Woods Services and Trenton Emergency Medical Services. These clinical partners provide students with hands-on experience, access to skilled clinical staff, and state-of-the-art equipment alongside patient engagement opportunities that serve as an invaluable springboard into the profession.

Funding support has been vital to shoring up nursing programs and defraying tuition costs for an increasingly diverse population of students.

A $2.8 million grant in May 2023 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Nursing Expansion Grant Program aimed at diversifying the nursing workforce is ensuring that students from historically marginalized communities have a clear pathway to a nursing career. The funding targets the demand for psychiatric mental health nursing and provides generous tuition assistance programs for the University’s BSN and MSN students. The University is also partnering with Capital Health and two other New Jersey hospitals – Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and Ancora Psychiatric Hospital – to help ease shortages across various mental health nursing positions. The Gloucester County Workforce Development Board and the New Jersey State Nurses Association round out the public/private partnerships supported by the grant as well as two community college pipelines, Mercer County Community College and Raritan Valley Community College.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 193,000 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. The field of mental health nursing is most affected by that deficit. By 2025, the field is projected to be 250,000 professionals short of demand.

“The surge in our enrollments underscores not only the program’s appeal but also its pivotal role in addressing the urgent health care needs of our community,” noted Ruth Wittmann-Price, Ph.D., dean of the School. “As we celebrate our community partnerships and the achievements they engender, we strengthen our objective of nurturing the next generation of nursing professionals who will uphold the highest standards of patient care and clinical excellence.”

For more information on the programs in the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions, visit

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