Asheville is getting a new nursing school. HCA-owned Galen College of Nursing said this week it plans to open a new campus in Biltmore Park on Sept. 29, expanding the number of nurses being trained in western North Carolina during a nationwide nursing shortage.
HCA — the Nashville-based corporation that owns Mission Hospital in Asheville and five other hospitals in western North Carolina — said the new nursing school, located 30 Town Square Boulevard in Biltmore Park, will be a “state of the art” 16,900-square foot facility for classroom and patient simulation training.
Admissions for the fall quarter are now open, HCA said. HCA did not say what the expected enrollment or faculty size of the new campus is expected to be, but it said the addition of the Asheville-area campus will increase total enrollment across its 13 campuses to about 10,000 students this fall, for an average of about 750 per campus.
At present the Mission Health system has nearly 450 unfilled positions open for registered nurses (RNs), roughly equivalent to the total number of nurses graduated each year from all western North Carolina nursing schools combined. Mission Health recently awarded grants to three local nursing schools to add an instructor; in general, each instructor can train 10 students.
HCA-Galen’s Asheville campus will initially offer three degree options, including a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a three-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and a Licensed Practical Nurse to Associate Degree in Nursing Bridge Option (LPN to ADN Bridge). Galen also offers online programs. Admissions appointments can be scheduled by calling (877) 223-7040 or going online to galencollege.edu.
Based on tuition and fees at other Galen campuses, the new Asheville school is likely to be more expensive than other area nursing schools, with tuition and fees of as much as $20,000 a year, not counting living expenses and books.
A two-year associate degree at A-B Tech in Asheville costs about $4,000 a year, not counting living expenses, according to the A-B Tech website. Costs at Western Carolina University’s nursing school in Biltmore Park are approximately $5,000 a year, not counting living expenses, according to WCU’s website.
The opening of an HCA-owned nursing school in Asheville is not expected to reduce opportunities for graduates of other local nursing school programs, given the soaring demand for nurses and related healthcare jobs locally and nationwide. — Peter Lewis