Good afternoon.

Like Dr. Bailey said, UTRGV is extremely proud to partner with the City of Pharr on the expansion of our School of Nursing.

The School of Nursing seeks to offer programs that facilitate the development of competent and skilled practitioners, educators and leaders within an inter-professional environment.

As we anticipate our expansion into this amazing new facility, it is safe to say that our inter-professional environment is about to be upgraded in a major way. As nice as this building will be to work and learn in, it serves a much greater purpose in our overall mission, particularly in this moment. Currently, the School of Nursing annually enrolls around 200 nursing students in our generic and second degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. And about 100 more in our graduate and registered nurse 2 BSN programs.

If that seems like a lot, please consider this. In 2019, there were ten nursing programs in the Valley and they were educating approximately 1,500 students. But even with these numbers over 700 qualified applicants were not admitted into nursing programs. According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies there is a shortage of approximately 6,000 nurses across the Valley and this shortage is not projected to decrease thru 2032.

This means that over the next decade our local healthcare systems are not currently prepared to meet the demands that they will face. However, this facility, powered by the work of our incredible faculty, staff and students will play a critical role in ensuring that that is not the case.

Not only does this facility provide us with state-of-the-art teaching and simulation labs, but it also allows us to expand nursing enrollment at all levels. Baccalaureate, Master’s, and Doctorate. That’s because every UTRGV nursing program regardless of degree level will have a home here. With four large classrooms, a skills lab and full simulation center, this facility will provide undergraduate, pre-licensure students with one of the best learning environments anywhere.

Additionally, the building will have two classrooms, a skills lab, a simulation center and a full clinic setup with exam rooms, thus equipping students in our graduate nursing programs, including our new Doctor of Nursing practice programs with the valuable experience and training that they will utilize throughout their careers.

While all the trends and numbers confirm our need to expand they also say a lot about the kind of people we have here. Our students have a strong desire to contribute to the health and well-being of their community. And they are motivated to make a difference. They are aware of the pandemic’s impact on working nurses and have witnessed the effects on loved ones. However, they are ready to meet these challenges and I am so proud to be a member of an institution and community that is willing to give them every opportunity to succeed. (Applause)

I would also, in addition to our nursing students, like to bring to attention all our nursing faculty that will be here and will be joining us in our new building. Please stand. (Applause)

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was given by MaryJane Lewitt, dean of the School of Nursing and Associate Vice President of Academic Initiatives at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Lewitt gave the commentary at a news conference held to announce the expansion of UTRGV’s School of Nursing. A new state-of-the-art facility to train nurses is to be built in Pharr, on land just south of the Pharr Events Center on N. Cage Boulevard. Lewitt can be reached by email via: [email protected].

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above commentary shows MaryJane Lewitt at the UTRGV-City of Pharr news conference. (Photo credit: City of Pharr)

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the expansion of the UTRGV School of Nursing.

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