CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has received more than $1 million, in the form of a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, to boost the already unique and nationally-recognized eLine Military Program that fast-tracks nursing degrees for veterans with prior medical experience.
As an increasing number of veterans attempt to reintegrate into civilian life, many are faced with the challenge of finding jobs that match their skill sets. In fact, roughly 844,000 veterans are unemployed and looking for work, according to a 2013 report issued by the White House. In Texas, this concern is magnified due to the large number of veterans at Texas bases who will be leaving the service due to expected drawdowns.
Many, particularly those returning veterans who served in a medical capacity as medics or corpsmen, find their experience does not translate into the credentials needed or recognized in the civilian world. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ eLine Military Program is credited in the White House report as being part of the solution, by utilizing a Prior Learning Assessment model. This program individually evaluates military medical experience for appropriate academic credit.
Currently, between 50-60 eLine Military students are enrolled in the program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In addition, there are 160 students in the pipeline, and since 2010, there have been more than 1,500 inquires, evidence that there is interest and a need for the program.
“In most cases, military personal have limited career options in the medical field when they transition into civilian life,” said Dr. Mary Jane Hamilton, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “We have identified a solution to translate the knowledge and experience they already have into credits. This program gives individuals credit for what they already know, and keeps them from having to start the program from the beginning.”
Hamilton says the program is unique in that it is as individualized as possible and the student has the flexibility to customize the program to their benefit.
“We have a case worker that works with these students to offer a ‘circle of caring’ which includes psycho-social support, counselors, academic support, tutors, mentors and the best financial package available to them,” she said. “We treat the students like family.”
For example, a veteran who receives credit for prior medical training and experience can complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in 15-18 months (or less) compared to the typical BSN student, who would normally complete the program in 24 months. However, due to the flexibility, the length of time in the program is individualized to the student. This shortens the length of time a veteran needs to spend in school before being able to find a full-time civilian job.
The recent HRSA award issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for more than $1 million (or $349,965 each year for three years) will allow for greater focus on veterans, primarily by increasing outreach, and by offering veterans the opportunity to begin the program six months before separating from the military.