First Posted: 1/15/2009
Mark Locklear-Staff writer
PEMBROKE - The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has been given final approval to start a four-year nursing program.
University officials said 50 students will be admitted in the 2005 spring semester, with a total of 200 students to be admitted by 2007. Classes will be held at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton. The North Carolina Board of Nursing approved the program on Sept. 23.
The addition will be a step up from the two-year program now offered to registered nurses and, along with other recent additions, is thickening the school's course catalog.
In July, UNCP was awarded $10 million to start a school of optometry, which will be the first one in the state. Majors in environmental science and Spanish were offered for the first time this semester. A biotechnology major is also in the future.
University officials say the nursing program will give a “shot in the arm” to the nursing profession and health care delivery in southeastern North Carolina.
“UNCP’s nursing program will assist our region by graduating top quality nurses,” Chancellor Allen Meadors said. “The nursing field is a noble, caring profession, and it is critical to help resolve the increasing nursing shortage in our region.”
Luckey Welsh, CEO and president of Southeastern Regional, said the medical center will serve as the clinical site for students. About 7,000-square feet of the Corporate Services building, which faces Rowland Avenue, will be renovated as clinical settings, classrooms, computer labs and offices.
“We appreciate the vision of Chancellor Meadors and the work by Peggy Opitz (nursing department chairman) whose planning gained approval for the program,” Welsh said. “Our citizens will benefit for years to come because of these collaborative efforts.”
Opitz praised SRMC for its collaboration on the program.
“What makes this so impressive is that local people got together to solve local problems,” Opitz said. “We’ll be producing badly needed nurses for the workforce. It's absolutely wonderful.”
Students will be admitted to the program after two years at the university, Opitz said. Nursing license examinations will be given after graduation.
Four faculty members will be added to the UNCP staff. UNCP has created a pre-nursing advising program for undergraduates who wish to enter the program.
UNCP began the two-year nursing program in 1992. It is offered by the Southeastern North Carolina Nursing Consortium and Fayetteville State University. More than 100 nursing students are enrolled at UNCP and at satellite campuses at Sandhills, Richmond and Southeastern community colleges.
“Our nursing program has delivered great returns for this university and for nursing in the region,” Opitz said. “We have graduated over 160 BSNs and 30 have gone on to get their master’s degrees. In fact, we hired two of our graduates - Surrie McNeill and Cindy Herndon - as new faculty.”
When UNCP asked the Board of Nursing for 100 slots in the new program, 200 were granted, Opitz said. Gail Davis, SRMC vice president of Patient Care Services, said the nurses are needed in the region.
“The UNCP nursing program will put 200 additional nurses in the pipeline, which will be a great resource for the hospital, Wood Haven, Gibson Cancer Center and the Health Department,” Davis said. “The timing of this program is perfect since we will be opening our heart center in early 2006.”
The University and Community Relations Office at UNCP contributed to this article.