Addition of nursing degree gives RNs more options

San Jacinto College student Cathy Zarraga says when her instructor called to tell her about University of Houston-Clear Lake’s addition of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing she was beyond excited.

“Do you know how awesome that is?” asked Zarraga who has been pursuing her Associate of Applied Science/Associate Degree in Nursing (Registered Nursing) and thought it might be the end of her education.

The single mother of 10-year-old Kevyn, Zarraga is currently busy with clinicals and classes to complete her degree in May 2014 and now plans to move into the new bachelor’s degree program at UH-Clear Lake.

UHCL received approval for the new degree in late October and will begin the new program just in time for Zarraga in fall 2014. The program is didactic, which means that the clinical aspect of nursing will have already been completed before attending UHCL. It allows RNs to sharpen their managerial and leadership skills and to advance as nurse managers in health care organizations.

“Adding the Bachelor of Science in Nursing strengthens the university and its School of Human Sciences and Humanities,” says UHCL School of Human Sciences and Humanities Dean Rick Short. “We look at the educational needs in the area and seek to answer those needs by providing top-notch educational opportunities; this one creates a new career pathway for nurses who have already completed their licensure and received an associate’s degree.”

“All nursing jobs require the RN licensing,” explains Department of Nursing Chair and Associate Professor of Fitness and Human Performance Terry Dupler. “However, many locations are now also requiring a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“Our students will complete the licensing aspect at San Jacinto College or any of our other community college partners, and then will complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing coursework at UHCL.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook notes that employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent between 2010 to 2020 which indicates a faster than average pace for all occupations. In other data, the handbook indicates that registered nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing will have better job prospects. The Future of Nursing report, initiated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and released in October 2010 by the Institute of Medicine recommended increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80 percent by 2020.

“For the nurses who have been practicing for a while, they will be able to get their bachelor’s degree so they can move into management roles,” adds Dupler. “At most hospitals and clinics, the nursing managers are required to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.

“The program will be a great way for nurses to move up the career ladder in the health care environment.”

In addition to support from local community colleges, UHCL also received encouragement from local hospitals.

“I congratulate UHCL for receiving approval,” adds Clear Lake Regional Medical Center CEO Stephen K. Jones Jr. “This will have a significant positive impact in the Clear Lake area. I have been a supporter of this project for some time, and it is great to see this vision realized.

“The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will have a profound effect on the workforce in the region and, most importantly, be positive for the tens of thousands of patients treated in our local hospitals annually.”

For future nurses like Zarraga, it is a dream coming true.

“I really want this,” she says. “I love working with patients, and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned and sharing what I know as a nurse.

“I really want to make a difference.”

For more information about the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, call the Office of Human Sciences and Humanities Academic Advising, 281-283-3334.

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University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. In 2011, the university gained approval from the state to add freshman- and sophomore-level courses to its roster and is currently planning for its first freshman class in fall 2014. For more information about the university, visit



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