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February 18, 2012

TU offers nursing degree in China

THOMASVILLE — Thomas University has attracted top students from across the region and the country. Now its reach extends around the world.

Thomas University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program is on a world stage, recognized as one of just a handful of international nursing programs approved by the Chinese Central Government to be offered in China. Through partnerships with Wenzhou Medical College in Wenzhou and Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Nanchang, Chinese registered nurses can now earn a Thomas University RN-BSN degree. A total of 142 students in China are on track to enter the TU program.

Wenzhou Medical College was one of the first in China to award master’s and doctoral degrees and has partnerships with U.S. and European universities, particularly for health research. Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine is designated by the Chinese Ministry of Education as one of its premiere higher learning institutions and is the largest traditional Chinese medicine school in China.

Establishing a partnership with a university in China is no easy task. The Chinese Central Government is highly selective in approving foreign programs in China. There are currently just six cooperative nursing programs through universities in other countries with Central Government approval. Two of those six programs are the partnerships with Thomas University’s Division of Nursing.

 TU President Gary Bonvillian was instrumental in shaping the university agreements and earning Central Government approval. Since 2002, he has been engaged in developing educational partnerships between U.S. and Chinese schools.

 “Thomas University is proud to include nursing in its portfolio of international programs,” said Bonvillian. “This achievement took many hours of diligent work on the part of our faculty and our Chinese partners. Our international outreach supports Thomas University’s primary mission of serving the immediate region with quality higher education programs. Our domestic TU students will benefit from this international outreach because it will provide opportunities for study exchanges and interaction with cultures across the globe.”

TU Chair of the Division of Nursing Dr. Susan Otto and Provost Dr. Ann Landis had numerous meetings, both in person in China and via video conferencing with partners in China over the past three years to evaluate curriculum, understand differences and similarities in nursing education, develop mutual goals and standards, and ultimately design the partnership model.

“Our Chinese nursing education colleagues face similar challenges in addressing the complex healthcare needs of their citizens,” Dr. Otto explained. “Our partnership provides Chinese students with the opportunity to gain an American perspective on nursing practice and develop as nursing leaders. This will prepare them to meet the future healthcare needs within China as well as internationally.”

In September 2011, Dr. Otto and other TU Nursing faculty and students travelled to China to learn about Chinese nursing, history, and culture, with a particular emphasis on healthcare. They spent several days with TU’s future RN-BSN students at Wenzhou Medical College, touring Chinese hospitals and the medical college.

“Our partnership with the Chinese universities gives our students a first-hand perspective on the healthcare needs of our global community in a way that can’t be taught in a classroom,” Dr. Otto stated.

Dr. Landis said, “This is an exciting partnership that opens doors for both U.S. and Chinese nursing faculty and students to learn from one another and work together to improve healthcare. The opportunity to gain an international perspective and cultural understanding is a primary reason why Thomas University has developed international partnerships.”

For more information on the nursing programs at Thomas University, call (229) 227-6925.

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