Board of Nursing Grants MSC Approval To Offer Four - Year Nursing
Program Begins in Fall 2004
From left to right, Dr. Vickie Brown, Dr. Becky Corvey, Dr.
Pam O' Neal and Sheryl Winn of the Division of Nursing and
Health Sciences display the multiple reports submitted to the
Georgia Board of Nursing over the past 17 months. The
board approved the RN - BSN completion Degree on March 12.
By Renee Pearman
Photos By Bruce Radcliffe
This fall Macon State College nursing students will be studying
Concepts of Nurses as Educators and Nurses as
Leader/Manager, both upper - division classes.
It's what Dr. Pam O' Neal has worked for since arriving at the
College nearly two years ago to assume the duties of chair of the
Division of Nursing and Health Sciences. Her first priority -
guiding the development of Macon State's bachelor of science
completion degree in nursing - has consumed much of her time.
"Long before I arrived, the nursing faculty here had been
working toward this goal," O' Neal said. "I just more or less
took the reins, and together we're making this dream a reality
through perseverance and commitment."
Since July 2002, O' Neal and the faculty have worked closely
with the Georgia Board of Nursing to develop MSC's junior - and
- senior - level nursing courses. Four detailed reports and
nearly 500 pages later, the Board of Nursing on March 12 granted
initial approval for Macon State to begin offering baccalaureate -
level nursing courses beginning fall 2004.
"This is a remarkable achievement for the College, and it is the
first time that I am aware of that the Georgia Board of Nursing
granted approval of the entire upper - division curriculum at one
meeting," O' Neal said.
The eight - member Board of Nursing is responsible for the
regulation of professional Registered Nurses and advanced practice
Registered Nurses, and also oversees the development of rules and
regulations that set the standards for nursing practice and
The March 12 action came almost two years to the date that the
University System of Georgia's Board of Regents granted Macon State
permission to begin developing what is called an RN - BSN Completion
Program, one specifically designed for practicing Registered Nurses
with associate degrees or hospital diplomas.
The bachelor of science in nursing, the College's seventh
baccalaureate degree, consists of 60 academic credit hours beyond
the associate degree in nursing. Students are eligible to
enter any program once they have completed an associate degree or
hospital diploma and earned state licensure as RNs.
"I have to give credit to our outstanding nursing faculty who
put in so many hours and worked so hard outlining the details of the
curriculum and the admission process," O' Neal said. "We have
developed an innovative and tailored RN - BSN Completion Program."
The highly credentialed RN - BSN faculty include O' Neal, Dr.
Becky Corvey, director of the nursing program, Dr. Vickie Brown,
professor of nursing, and Sheryl Winn, an assistant professor of
nursing who is certified in advanced practice nursing.
A baccalaureate education in nursing, O' Neal said, offers a
broader, more scientific curriculum, which gives Registered Nurses
the perspective and understanding of health - and factors affecting
health - in the rapidly changing health care industry.
"The role of the RN has changed over the years," O' Neal said.
"Today's professional nurses must be skilled providers, designers,
managers and coordinators of care. Their responsibilities now
range from direct patient care and case management to establishing
nursing practice standards, developing quality assurance procedures
and directing complex nursing care systems.
"Our baccalaureate nursing program will focus on developing
those abilities in our graduates."
In 1971, Macon State introduced an associate of science degree
in nursing. Since then, 2,396 nursing students have graduated
from the College. Corvey calls the RN - BSN degree an
extension of the associate program.
"With the RN - BSN Completion Program, we are building on our
successful associate degree program," Corvey said. "The
program is a new extension that offers additional opportunities for
our current and potential students."
"It's a continuation of professional development and career
advancement," O' Neal added.
Demand for Registered Nurses is significantly growing, driven by
21st century trends such as the aging Baby Boomer population,
technological advances in the health care field and the expanding
role of RNs throughout the health care industry, as well as the fact
that older RNs are retiring.
"Most states, including Georgia, are grappling with nursing
shortages. By 2010, the state of Georgia is expected to have a
shortfall of 15,000 Registered Nurses, and nationwide, we will need
more than one million new nurses by 2010," O' Neal said, citing
figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Once the Regents approved the development of the RN - BSN, the
Division of Nursing and Health Sciences began carefully crafting
degree program plans to present to the state Board of Nursing for
the initial approval.
For O' Neal, Corvey, Brown and Winn, the past 20 months have
been devoted to report preparations, curriculum development and
"Since October 2002, we've submitted four reports to the Georgia
Board of Nursing," Corvey said, "and each has required the Board of
Nursing stamp of approval before we could proceed to the next step
Macon State's nursing program posted an outline application for
the RN - BSN program in January, and dozens of Registered Nurses
applied almost immediately. O' Neal anticipates accepting up
to 40 students in the first RN - BSN class. The nursing
faculty members have made scheduling flexibility a priority in order
to accommodate RNs who want to pursue the degree while continuing to
work in the profession.
"For example, nurses who work three 12 - hour shifts can take
all their classes one day a week if they choose," Corvey said, "or
some may elect to take only one class per semester or two or three
classes each semester. We've tried to tailor our program to
meet the needs of RNs in our region."
The faculty also has taken into account that RNs returning to
the classroom may be eligible to exempt certain courses. "For
example, nurses who have been doing physical assessments daily in
their current practice may take a departmental exam to validate
their proficiency," Corvey said, "and if successful in the
department exam, they can receive credit without having to take the
All nursing classes and labs move to the new Charles H. Jones
Building in the summer. Featuring state - of - the - art
instructional space for nursing and other health sciences and modern
labs for biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, the 78,000 -
square foot, three - story Jones Building will house the Division of
Nursing and Health Sciences and the Division of Natural Sciences and
Online applications for RNs interested in
Macon State's new baccalaureate program for professional nurses can
be found at
http://www.maconstate.edu/nursing/ . Call
(478) 471 - 2762 for more information.
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