Future nurses at Stephen F. Austin State University sit in a small classroom learning how to take care of newborns, but their minds could stray from the important information because of the uncomfortable closeness in the classroom. The nursing program is critically short of space. Instructor Jan Vanderlaan described the feeling. "When they're cramped elbow to elbow in a classroom it's hard for them to take notes, it's hard for them to concentrate. Sometimes the number of bodies in a room raises the temperature and it's hard for them to concentrate."
The nursing department has one wing in the Math Nursing building. Closets are made into offices. At a North Street branch professors actually share office space. There's one large room for all the students. Scheduling is difficult.
Despite the lack of space SFA is increasing the number of nursing students by 20 each fall. It's up to sixty now boosting SFA's enrollment and filling the nursing shortage. Nursing department chair, Dr. Glenda Walker said, "If in fact we do not increase the nursing capacity in East Texas the hospitals in East Texas will have a hard time recruiting from Houston, Dallas, Austin and the larger health science centers."
Both Nacogdoches hospitals assist in nursing clinicals, but even in that setting space can become an issue because other universities besides SFA are served. According to nursing student Monika Brindley students are choosing other schools because they're turned off by unmet needs at SFA. "They were accepted in SFA, but declined. They had gotten into somewhere else that has bigger classes and more space and better models and they felt that they would learn better somewhere where the feel appreciated."
If a new building is approved by the legislature there will be room for classrooms and teaching labs. The university tuition revenue bond request is for a facility estimated to cost $14,700,000.