KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee Medical Center is partnering with the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and Lincoln Memorial University Caylor School of Nursing to create education to career-driven opportunities for future nursing students.

The UT Medical Center is working to develop academic and practice partnerships. The partnerships are to help attract and retain RNs within East Tennessee.

“We are building upon our long-standing relationships with the UT and LMU colleges of nursing to create mutually beneficial partnerships to address our region’s complex and unprecedented nursing shortage,” said Dr. Sandy Leake, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at UTMC.

The partnership is also providing early career development and growth opportunities for Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) students through mentorships. Employment is guaranteed during the program with a full service commitment after completing the degree.

UT Medical Center and UT College of Nursing are working to create a Nurse Scholars Program to provide financial support to BSN students.

There will also be endowment funding to provide tuition assistance for 8-12 student scholars annually, combined with a tuition discount.

“The University of Tennessee Medical Center is thrilled to partner with UT College of Nursing and LMU Caylor School of Nursing to find innovative approaches that will build and sustain a robust pipeline of high-quality BSN graduates. These nurses will likely live, work, and remain in our community, ensuring a long-term continuum of patient care,” Leake said. “The programs are designed to provide hands-on learning and clinical experience by working with RNs in the region’s only Magnet®-Designated hospital and to guarantee post-graduation employment.”

LMU-CSON will provide substantial financial support to BSN students through a Nursing Excellence Program. The UT Medical Center will offer annual tuition assistance for up to 10 nursing students of excellence, who will also receive discounted tuition from LMU.

“UT College of Nursing is excited to create a win-win partnership with UT Medical Center,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the college. “We are able to reduce the financial burden for nursing students while supporting the workforce needs for our clinical partners.”

LMU-CSON plans to expose middle school students to healthcare careers and recruit high school students through health science clubs, health-related affinity groups and healthcare career camps. The multi-faceted partnership will utilize co-branded messaging, digital marketing, co-hosted job fairs and shadowing opportunities for potential participants.

“East Tennessee has long been classified as medically underserved. The pandemic has only exacerbated nursing shortages,” said Dr. Jody Goins, LMU executive vice president for administration. “The LMU Health Science Institute will provide nursing touch points for students as early as middle school and hopefully inspire more students choose nursing for a career. LMU is excited to enter into this partnership with UT Medical Center to train East Tennessee students to serve our communities for generations to come.”