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Aug. 9, 2002 -- No. 418

N.C.’s first accelerated nursing program to graduate first class of nurses Sunday (Aug. 11)

Sunday (Aug. 11), 2 p.m.
Fourth-floor clinic auditorium, MacNider Hall
South Columbia Street, UNC campus

North Carolina’s first accelerated nursing program – at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing – will graduate its first class of new nurses at 2 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 11).

The program, created in part to address the growing nursing shortage, allows college graduates with baccalaureate degrees and interest in a nursing career to obtain their bachelor of science degree in nursing in 14 months, a little more than half the time it takes to earn a bachelor of science in nursing in a traditional 24-month program.

The national nursing shortage continues to receive considerable attention. President George W. Bush recently signed the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which will give scholarships and grants to help hospitals retain their nursing staffs and encourage individuals to enter the nursing profession. The current nursing shortage, recently estimated at 126,000 unfilled positions by the American Hospital Association, is expected to worsen if working conditions don’t improve for nurses, the American Nurses Association has reported.

"During this period of nursing shortage, our new BSN option allowed the School of Nursing to increase the number of new nurse graduates from 135 in spring-summer 2001 to 160 in 2002," said Dr. Linda Cronenwett, dean of the School of Nursing. "In opening this option, we attracted a new group of students, all of whom successfully completed the program."

Dr. Judy Miller, an associate professor at the School of Nursing, worked in close association with Cronenwett and a group of university nursing and education experts to create the program. "We have created a community of students, staff, faculty and nurses in practice that has enabled us to implement a strong academic and clinical program based on the strengths of our students," she said.

UNC Hospitals helped fund the program through contributions toward start-up costs and student scholarships. In exchange for the scholarships, students agreed to work at UNC Hospitals for between 14 and 36 months, depending on the level of support received.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, only 90 accelerated BSN programs exist nationwide. In addition to the UNC program, two additional programs in North Carolina are scheduled to open within the year at Duke University and Winston-Salem State University.

Interviewing opportunities: To arrange an interview with a student or nursing instructor, call Norma Singleton Hawthorne at (919) 966-4619 or Deb Saine at (919) 962-8415.

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School of Nursing contact: Norma Singleton Hawthorne, (919) 966-4619