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Barbara Haas, associate dean of the University of Texas at Tyler College of Nursing and Health Sciences School of Nursing (left); upperclassman nursing students Blakely Trotter, Ryan Graham and Michael Davis; and Undergraduate Clinical Instructor Angela Preston stand for a photo following the university's announcement of offering summer nursing courses to help combat the shortage of nurses in the region Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, at the University Center building in Tyler. (Cara Campbell/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

The University of Texas at Tyler is enacting a tri-semester system this year in its nursing program, officials announced Thursday.

The move is designed to allow the university to increase nursing enrollment and help nursing students graduate more quickly.

Officials said this will help close the gap of a shortage of nursing students in the state.

Core nursing curriculum classes had been offered during the fall and spring semesters. Under the new system, classes will also be offered during a summer semester.

Dr. Barbara Haas, associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said the nursing program has turned away about half of qualified applicants because it does not have the capacity to accept more students.

The tri-semester system will allow the college to enroll about 180 more students each year. This represents a 50% increase in enrollment, she said.

Students who choose to take classes in the spring, summer and fall semesters without a break will be able to graduate sooner, she said.

Beth Neidlinger, a representative of Christus Good Shepherd Health System, praised the decision as a “very progressive and strategic move.”

Having a larger pool of nurse applicants will help hospitals and clinics fill vacancies quicker, she said.

Shannon Allert, a nursing student at the university, said at the news conference that the plan will allow her to earn her nursing degree faster.

“That is pretty cool,” she said.

“We are very excited about this,” said Dr. Yong Tai Wang, dean of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Wang noted that UT Tyler’s nursing program has received recognition for excellence on a national level.

“We are very proud of our program,” he said.

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