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GRAND PRAIRIE (CBS11) – A partnership between Grand Prairie ISD, Dallas Community College and UT Arlington is in the works and it could help alleviate the nursing shortage problem in Texas.

Grand Prairie ISD wants to add Nursing Academy to its Early College High School Program.

Under the plan, students would have the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma as well as an associates degree for applied science in nursing.

Dr. Joanna Slaton, the Director of the Early College High School program for GPISD says the nursing shortage in Texas is a serious problem, and this could get students into a career field that needs skilled employees.

“In the State of Texas it is predicted that by 2021 there is going to be a shortage or need of half a million nurses in the state,” said Dr. Slaton.

The dual enrollment curriculum would be provided through the Dallas Community College.

Upon successful completion of the program, newly graduated nurses would be able to sit for a registered nurse certification, and directly transfer into the UT Arlington nursing school to complete a bachelors degree or beyond.

Dr. Ceil Flores, Assistant Dean at UT Arlington said the school of Nursing and Health Innovation will be ready to welcome the GPISD program grads with open arms.

She said the transition process would be seamless.

“They’re going to advance degrees earlier,” said Dr. Flores.  They can become a nurse practitioner, they could do nursing education. So there will be ways for them to enhance the nursing profession.”

The dual enrollment program would be paid for by a state grant according to administrators.

Dr. Slaton said, “We can essentially give a parent a certificate for 50 percent off a four-year degree.”

Dr. Slaton said that while the plans are in place all the partners involved still have to finalize contract agreements before the program rolls out in the fall.