A two-year, $300,000 grant recently awarded to Texas promises to give a major boost in helping create a more highly educated and diverse nursing workforce, said Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing and co-project director of the grant.

Texas is one of nine states to receive grant funding.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded the grant through its new Academic Progression in Nursing program. The funding is intended to support statewide efforts of the Texas Team Action Coalition, convened to advance the Future of Nursing: “Campaign for Action,” to help nurses transition seamlessly to higher levels of education in order to meet growing demand for high quality, cost effective and accessible health care.

Texas Team is a statewide coalition of partner organizations from business, health care, academia and other sectors.

The point of the grant is to bring together education and practice to keep students on track to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

The Institute of Medicine recommended in its milestone report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” increasing to 80 percent the proportion of nurses with a BSN or higher by 2020. Currently only half of U.S. nurses have baccalaureate degrees.

The Texas Team Action Coalition will encourage partnerships between community colleges and universities to make it easier for nurses to transition seamlessly to higher levels of education.

UHV already has agreements in place with Victoria College, Lone Star College System and Wharton County Junior College that allow any of their students achieving an Associate Degree in Nursing to automatically be admitted to UHV’s Registered Nurse to BSN program. A nursing student who satisfies the Victoria College, Lone Star or WCJC general education core also will satisfy all UHV core requirements.