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UTHSC partnership helps relieve financial barriers in nursing program

"Definitely life changing," said Robyn Stojka, a Methodist nurse and one of the first to take advantage of the new agreement with Methodist.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There continues to be a huge demand for nurses across the country. 

Just within 25 miles of Memphis, there are over 2,300 registered nursing jobs listed on Indeed. However, a new partnership between Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare and UTHSC could help address it by focusing on covering the tuition and fees students face in the Accelerated Nursing Program.  

“Definitely life changing,” said Robyn Stojka, a Methodist nurse and one of the first to take advantage of the new agreement.

More than 30 other nurses have had their tuition and fees in the UTHSC program covered by Methodist, avoiding major loans. On average, students have roughly $27,000 in debt in Tennessee alone according to the Institute for College Access and Success.  By addressing these financial barriers, it could help keep more nurses in Memphis. Stojka was able to send back $15,000 in private loans thanks to the partnership.

“I got to get rid of a lot of loans, and I know a lot of people that did as well,” said Stojka.

“They’re all second degree students, many of our students come to us with already maxed out student loans or other financial constraints that do not allow them to have the access to everything,” said UTHSC BSN Program Director Dr. Randall Johnson.

The second part comes into play following graduation from UTHSC.  Nurses involved with the partnership will then work at Methodist for two years.

“Just knowing I had something lined up, that took away pressure especially towards graduation and finals.  Now I’m just a little over a month in, and it’s been great,” said Stojka.

UTHSC said this has also opened the door for tackling the landscape of nursing in Memphis as well, and retaining more nurses locally.

“That’s an added benefit, it was kind of our goal, to enhance the nursing availability of new nurses coming into the pool in Memphis, and primarily because there is such a shortage in our hospitals across the city and across the state,”  said Dr. Johnson.

“I’ve been here since 2015, and you get to see kind of the wide ranging health concerns.  UTHSC and Methodist are great places to find that opportunity and to make your impact,” said Stojka.

The partnership between UTHSC and Methodist is expected to continue for another three years.  In the meantime, Dr. Johnson said the main goal will be to make sure information about the agreement makes it into the hands of students sooner, so they can avoid being billed for tuition and fees.

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