By Holly Desrosier
Craven Community College (Craven CC) will receive a $150,000 grant from CarolinaEast Medical Center (CEMC) in an effort to boost the region’s nursing staff. The funds will be used to secure a new full-time nursing instructor to accommodate for an increase of nursing students on the college’s New Bern campus.
The plan was introduced last year when Dr. Kathleen Gallman, chief academic officer and vice president for instruction at Craven CC, and Rosanne Leahy, CEMC senior vice president for nursing, met to discuss a need for more nurses and the feasibility of increasing the college’s current nursing cohort.
“The hospital expressed a need for more registered nurses,” said Gallman. “Rosanne stated that at any given time, CEMC has more than 20 nursing vacancies. She and I met on a couple of occasions to discuss ways in which the college could meet the hospital’s needs and vice versa.”
Based on those discussions, the college plans to increase its number of nursing graduates each year, as well as the faculty and clinical needs associated with that increase. Aligning with the hospital’s desire to increase the number of baccalaureate nurses on staff, the college will focus efforts on educating Craven CC nursing students through the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) initiative, opening more seats for traditional nursing students, as well as increasing the number of seats for transition students.
Craven CC’s RIBN program is a four-year option in which nursing students are concurrently enrolled at Craven CC and ECU and ultimately complete their associate degree in nursing (ADN) and Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). RIBN candidates initially must apply to ECU’s nursing program while still in high school. Upon graduating high school, students take one year of general education courses at Craven CC, and then enter the college’s ADN program for the next two years while also taking one ECU online class per semester. Students will then receive their associate degree, and after passing the state licensure exam, will progress to the fourth year of online classwork through ECU.
Conversely, the Accelerated Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (aRIBN) program is a viable option for students who have already graduated high school and are either applying to or enrolled in a community college nursing program. Once accepted, students will be enrolled in both nursing programs at Craven CC and ECU. If they have already completed all of their general education courses before applying, they can graduate in as little as three years.
“Craven Community College has significantly increased its seats for RIBN students,” said Gallman. “We went from serving fewer than 10 in fall 2018 to admitting 25 aRIBN and 6 RIBN students in fall 2019.”
Both the RIBN and aRIBN programs offer students the option of working as a registered nurse after passing the NCLEX during the final year. Many Craven CC nursing students seek employment at local health facilities such as CEMC and Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Additionally, because the majority of coursework is completed on the Craven CC campus and online, both programs allow students to learn locally and are more cost effective than attending a traditional four-year university pre-licensure program.
The Craven CC nursing program currently coordinates with CEMC to provide clinical training and hands-on learning for students each semester. The college projects a need for two more units at the hospital to accommodate the additional students.
Each fall, Craven CC admits 40 first-year students into the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program, which includes both traditional and RIBN students, and 10 students into the Practical Nursing (PN) program. In addition, the college admits 10 transition students each spring and, after passing a transitions course, these students join the first-year students, forming the second-year ADN cohort. This means Craven CC is able to graduate up to 50 ADN students each year.
Upon receiving the grant, Craven CC plans to increase the total cohort size to 64. One additional nursing faculty is required to maintain an average 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio in the clinical setting.
For more information about Craven CC’s nursing programs, contact Jolie Huffman, admissions specialist for health programs, at 252-639-2025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article also appeared in the Sun Journal.