Ballad Health and ETSU found Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – To fight ongoing nursing shortages and offer a new way for students in the region to grow, East Tennessee State University has teamed up with Ballad Health to found the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement.

According to a press release from Ballad, the system has invested $10 million to found the new center on ETSU’s campus.

The center will feature a comprehensive approach to nursing education, combining business, nursing, liberal arts, education and other programs into one pipeline.

“As the largest nursing program in the state of Tennessee and as an institution whose mission is to improve the lives of the people of our region, we are excited about the opportunity Ballad Health has created to increase this vital pipeline of nurses, while also seeking to provide support and ongoing enhancement of our existing workforce,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. “ETSU is poised to continue to meet the challenge of the nursing shortage through the Center for Nursing Advancement, which will be rooted in our strong service, teaching and research missions.”

Another feature of the center, Ballad said, will be regional partnerships with other educational institutions like Emory & Henry College, Milligan University, Northeast State Community College, Tusculum University and UVA Wise.

The center will also serve to increase awareness of opportunities within nursing at the high school level, matching students with nursing roles within Ballad while they search for higher education programs and helping school systems craft curriculums around the field.

“Inspiring and educating the next generation of nurses and nurse educators is perhaps more important now than it has ever been,” said Dr. Leann Horsley, dean of ETSU’s College of Nursing. “The Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement will be critical to laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s nursing workforce in our region and ensuring that not only do we overcome the challenges of the pandemic, but that we also are proactive in creating a resilient and well-prepared workforce that can meet the future needs of our region as it grows.”

The release says the field has faced significant shortages long before COVID-19 stressed the system further, and over 1 million nurses are expected to retire before the end of the decade.

“The nation is facing a labor shortage with profound impacts on health care,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “Ballad Health is investing into East Tennessee State University to develop the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement which will not only serve the needs of the Appalachian Highland region, but the entire state. My administration looks forward to working with Ballad Health and ETSU as they build solutions to the national nursing shortage.”

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