The University of Texas at El Paso and HCA Healthcare announced a four-year $750,000 partnership to create nursing fellowships and a graduate degree to advance health care administration.
UTEP President Heather Wilson said health and human services is the fastest growing employment sector in the state.
“We sometimes talk about education as being a personal event that will make your life better if you go to college, and that’s true,” she said. “But sometimes I think we need to think about how important it is for the community, that higher education benefits all of us. If we have to take our kids to the emergency room, and there is an educator and technician or nurse there, we all benefit. Our lives are better for living in an educated community.”
HCA Healthcare is a leading provider of health care services in the U.S. In Texas, its locations include Las Palmas Medical Center and Del Sol Medical Center.
As part of UTEP’s portion of HCA Healthcare’s $10 million commitment to historically Black universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, the program will create nursing fellowships of four cohorts of eight students each, along with two health care administration programs, a UTEP news release stated.
The graduate program will outline a master’s program based on certificates that will allow students to follow a career path best suited for them, including data science, health care, business administration and leadership.
The announcement was made during a news conference Thursday at UTEP.
Sherri Neal, HCA Healthcare chief diversity officer, said partnering with UTEP, a Hispanic-serving institution, was a no-brainer.
“Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is about action, commitment and collaboration. And this partnership’s focus on preparing the next generation of health care leaders and ensuring diversity and health care leadership is how together we care like family for the future of our communities,” Neal said.
The program will start in the fall and students will receive a scholarship to participate in the nursing fellows or health care administration program in years two through four, the news release stated.
During the fall, the UTEP School of Nursing will become the College of Nursing and the cohort will be the first group of nursing administration and management students to be admitted to the UTEP College of Nursing, said Leslie Robbins, dean of UTEP’s School of Nursing.
Students who are accepted to the Masters of Nursing Administration program must qualify and apply to the program, where a committee will then review their application, UTEP officials said.
A total of 60 students will have received aid by the end of the initiative, the news release stated.
The program also will offer students opportunities for internships across HCA Healthcare’s Central and West Texas division at hospitals in El Paso and Austin, as well as the corporate office in Nashville, Tennessee, the news release said.
Michael Huffman, who is a registered nurse and unit director of medical oncology at Las Palmas Medical Center, is a member of the inaugural cohort. He said he hadn’t imagined his career would lead him into administration, but now that it has, he has enjoyed it.
“I just want to learn and really be a sponge, so I can apply it to my everyday work life and then continue to grow in administration,” Huffman said.