Pellissippi State–Children’s Hospital: a partnership to support future nurses

“As a general rule, nurses are less likely than physicians to pick up and move several states away for employment,” according to Keith Goodwin, president and chief executive officer of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

And that’s exactly why Children’s Hospital supports the Pellissippi State Foundation, which raises money for programs that directly benefit students at Pellissippi State Community College.

“There’s a huge push to develop our own kids, to create both educational and employment opportunities for those who are already invested in our community,” Goodwin said. “We want them to stay here.”

The partnership between Pellissippi State and Children’s Hospital in supporting future nurses began six years ago. That’s when the pediatric hospital made its first gift to the Pellissippi State Foundation for the purchase of nursing equipment.

“East Tennessee Children’s Hospital also joined in petitioning the state to allow the college to offer a nursing program,” said Peggy Wilson. Wilson is executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, as well as vice president of College Advancement.

Pellissippi State was approved last September to offer the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree, and this semester the college is educating its first class of Nursing students. The new program prepares students to take the state licensure exam required to become a registered nurse and has instructors at both the Magnolia Avenue Campus and the new Blount County Campus.

“The fact that Pellissippi State is now engaging [in a Nursing program] benefits the community,” said Goodwin. “I have a lot of respect for Pellissippi State. During my time with Leadership Knoxville, I was able to meet more of their staff. Their commitment to service is high-quality.”

Employment of RNs is projected to grow more than any other occupation in the U.S. through 2016. By 2020, more than 808,000 jobs for registered nurses are expected to be unfilled nationwide. According to Nursing Education Tennessee, the average earning for RNs in the Knoxville area is $54,875 per year.

Goodwin knows firsthand the need for nurses entering the field.

“As the economy improves,” he said, “the demand for nurses will be there even more. There are people who have extended their careers because of the economy. Once choice becomes an option again, there will be a void left by those who have been waiting to exit the profession.”

Children’s Hospital is the only comprehensive regional pediatric center in East Tennessee that is certified by the state. Serving East Tennessee and surrounding states since 1937, the facility is in a unique position when it comes to “meeting” those new to the nursing profession.

“All of the nursing students in the area have to do their clinical training in pediatrics here,” said Goodwin. “It’s both a responsibility and an opportunity for them and for us. Thirty-five years ago, an RN might have seen a nursing student as a negative. Now, those students are seen as possible future partners in carrying out what we do every day: taking care of children.

“Pellissippi State and Children’s Hospital have a synergistic nature,” he said. “Pellissippi State is training the next generation of professionals providing child care, while Children’s Hospital sees to it each day that our kids receive the best in care.”

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