The Department of Nursing at UNC Pembroke passed two major milestones in May when it graduated its first class of pre-licensure, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students and received full approval from the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
Thirty-six pre-licensure students graduated as part of the University’s May 5 commencement ceremony. Nine students from UNCP’s RN-BSN program also received degrees.
It was the largest graduating class for the Department of Nursing since its inception in 1992, said Dr. Barbara Synowiez, chair of the Department of Nursing.
“This was a very special day for us,” Dr. Synowiez said. “This event was the culmination of several years of hard work by officials at the University, the Nursing faculty as well as the students in our first graduating class.
“Our pioneer class has set a standard for excellence and is prepared to serve the nursing profession in North Carolina and the nation for many years in the future,” she said.
UNCP’s pre-licensure program had earned initial approval from the North Carolina Board of Nursing in 2004, and with its first graduating class, received full approval on May 18.
“This is a very thorough process that included a site visit, interviews of faculty and students, reviews of the curriculum, faculty, and students,” Dr. Synowiez said. “For us, this is really significant, and we will not be surveyed again for three years.”
The Department of Nursing offers an undergraduate nursing program that is highlighted by a focused curriculum, extensive clinical experiences and personal teaching approaches by faculty which prepares graduates to provide quality professional nursing services, across the life span, for individuals, families, groups and communities, Dr. Synowiez said.
The Nursing students who comprised the first class on the average were diverse. On the whole, they were older than typical undergraduates, and many had prior college experience and/or degrees. Many worked part-time, lived off campus and juggled family responsibilities, work responsibilities as well as hours of homework.
Janine Hepler, a working mother of three from Laurinburg, N.C., earned one of the BSN degrees.
“It was hard and very stressful, but that is the way with any Nursing program,” Hepler said. “I had a very good experience, and our instructors were right there for us all the way.”
Jason Paul Goodaire, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and an EMT from Lumberton, N.C., also graduated from the program.
“Being in the first class, we had many obstacles to overcome, but I felt that each class will make the program better and stronger,” Goodaire said. “Many of the faculty are excellent and really care about students.
“I would recommend this program, because when everything is said and done, I emerged a nurse,” he added.
Since graduation, the members of the first class are interviewing and accepting nursing positions in area healthcare facilities as well as preparing for the upcoming NCLEX-RN examination that is required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) before the graduates can begin work as professional nurses. In 2006, 88.3 percent of first time test takers nationwide passed the exam and were issued licenses to practice as registered nurses in their respective states or jurisdictions (www.ncsbn.org/245.htm).
UNCP began its upper-division Nursing program in 2005 – enrolling its first class of 50 students – after receiving approval from the UNC Board of Governors and the North Carolina Board of Nursing. The department is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and has achieved full approval from the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing major is fast becoming one of the most sought after majors on the UNCP campus. Admission to the upper-division pre-licensure BSN option is highly competitive.
The rising senior class has 50 students enrolled;the third pre-licensure BSN class of 70 students was recently selected from an applicant pool of approximately 200 qualified applicants.
The RN-BSN track continues to grow with courses at the main UNCP campus, Sandhills Community College Campus, Southeastern Community College Campus and Ft. Bragg.
For more information about nursing educational opportunities at UNCP, refer to the Department of Nursing web site www.uncp.edu/nursing or call Brenda McPherson at 910.521.6522 to schedule an appointment with a faculty advisor.