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UT Arlington wins federal funding to help veterans become nurses

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Media Contact: Traci Peterson

News Topics: admissions, employment, nursing, students

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Federal officials who aim to help veterans translate their military service into nursing careers have awarded a grant of almost $300,000 to the UT Arlington College of Nursing for to increase enrollment and graduation rates for veterans.

Kelly Bowman

Kelly Bowman, a 2003 graduate of the UT Arlington College of Nursing who served nine years active duty in the Navy, was deployed in Iraq and other areas of the Middle East.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced funding awards for the Veterans’ Bachelor of Science in Nursing program today. UT Arlington’s agreement with Health and Human Services is one of only nine in the nation. Recommended funding for UT Arlington over the next four years totals more than $1 million.

The grant will allow UT Arlington to expand and adapt its popular online BSN program to educate pre-licensure nurses with military backgrounds that included medical training. The school will work with the Department of Veterans Affairs, North Texas Health Care System (VANTHCS) as a clinical site for students.

“We respect the sacrifices of veterans and are delighted to have this opportunity to facilitate the transition of those with healthcare training into a career in nursing,” said Jennifer Gray, interim dean of the College of Nursing. “UT Arlington continues to respond in innovative ways to demands for a highly qualified, robust nursing workforce. By partnering with federal officials, we can become a valuable resource for veterans.”

Beth Mancini, associate dean of the College of Nursing and principal investigator for the new funding agreement, said: “The new grant will allow us to tailor our existing programs to the unique needs of our veterans and, where appropriate, allow them to gain credit for the training and experience they already have.”

College of Nursing administrators also hope to develop a model of collaboration between VA facilities and nursing schools that can be replicated across the United States.  

UT Arlington has about 2,600 military veterans among its 33,300 students this fall.

Veterans returning from active duty have an unemployment rate 2 to 4 percentage points higher than the general population. In February, the White House issued a report calling for action to address veterans needs called “The Fast Track to Civilian Employment: Streamlining Credentialing and Licensing for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Spouses.”

In its plan for the new VBSN program, UT Arlington’s College of Nursing says it will adapt core clinical classes in its online BSN program to “leverage the knowledge and skills” veterans have acquired already. The college also will develop professional development models to prepare faculty to address veterans’ unique needs and the challenges they might face.

Kelly Bowman, a 2003 graduate of the UT Arlington College of Nursing who served nine years active duty in the Navy, said she is proud to see her alma mater embarking on the VBSN program. Bowman was deployed in Iraq and other areas of the Middle East.

“So much of what veterans bring with them are their medical experiences and on-the-job training, rather than classroom-based knowledge,” Bowman said. “For us to have a program to allow service members, who have all this unique medical experience, to be able to apply that towards a BSN instead of having to start at the bottom and work their way up – that’s wonderful.”

The demand for nurses is expected to increase as baby boomers age and new healthcare laws are implemented. In addition, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has recommended that the percentage of bachelor’s degree-trained nurses nationwide increase from about 50 percent to 80 percent.

To increase student capacity, the UT Arlington College of Nursing launched its Academic Partnership-BSN program in January 2010. The format allows nursing students to do the majority of their coursework online but still complete their clinical courses in partner hospitals throughout the state.

Nearly 400 students already have graduated from that program. More than 93 percent of them have passed their state-licensing exam on the first attempt – an achievement comparable to graduates of the College’s traditional campus-based program.

The Veteran’s BSN program is the latest in a series of UT Arlington initiatives focused on support for military veterans. This summer, the campus opened its Veterans Assistance Center as one-stop shop for tutoring, mentoring, GI Bill paperwork help or other assistance. The center is an extension of the Veterans Upward Bound program, which offers instruction, textbooks, advising, supplies, and other services, for free for qualifying veterans.

The University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing is one of the largest and most successful in the country, with a 94 percent graduation rate and a 90 percent licensure testing pass rate for graduates entering the field. Please visit to learn more about the UT Arlington College of Nursing.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,300 students and more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas. It is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. Visit to learn more.


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.