ETSU could establish a joint nursing program with Tennessee Tech in conjunction with the engineering program the two are currently creating.

“We are working towards it,” said Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of the ETSU College of Nursing. “We have initial approvals and were now moving toward getting the final approvals.”

Nehring said this would allow students who live in the area access to new programs and increase the number of practitioners in the area, thereby helping the economy.

“Looking at how we can work with other people is going to be very important in the future,” Nehring said. “With news of the merger between Mountain States and Wellmont, it gives us in nursing the potential for lots of opportunities, the plan for the merging hospitals is to build a whole new system.”

Nehring said one of the challenges in nursing is conducting clinical experience with students in the hospital. If the programs joined, it would give students more options for clinical experience locations and classes.

“I can’t take more than eight students, but if every student is taking care of a pretty sick person, I can’t divide myself in eight to be with each of them,” Nehring said. “So, sometimes it is a little stressful because you are with a student and another student is doing something over there. And I’m just hoping it is going OK, and it usually is, but as a faculty member, you like to make sure that everything is going well and that you have a teachable moment.”

Nehring said Much like the engineering partnership with Tennessee Tech, a joint program in nursing and other areas could help students in similar situations. However, school is expensive, and cost is a big factor in determining whether the programs could work together.

“These are really exciting times for us, the different opportunities,” Nehring said. “As the world changes we have an opportunity to make us become better and serve the population even more.”