Limestone College’s new nursing plan is now full-steam ahead.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), which is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states, recently approved the College’s online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program proposal.
Now that the program has been approved to move forward, the College will begin marketing and recruiting for the 2019 fall semester.
The accelerated online RN-BSN program is designed to empower students to take on professional roles in nursing in a wide variety of settings. It will allow already licensed nurses (RNs) to continue their education and complete their undergraduate degrees.
For decades, the leaders in the field of nursing have encouraged Associate's and Diploma level nurses to pursue a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Research has proven that nurses with higher education experience improved job satisfaction, improved patient outcomes, fewer medication errors, and decreased mortality rates.
Within the last few years, the push to hire Bachelor's educated registered nurses has gained momentum, and according to Dr. Amber Williams, Limestone is now poised to meet that increasing need.
Williams, hired last year as the Director of the College’s Nursing Program, had not anticipated hearing from SACS until December of this year, but the program was approved earlier than expected.
The new program will provide a flexible and affordable pathway for RNs to build on previously acquired knowledge and experience to complete their undergraduate education. Williams hopes to have the program started by July 1, 2019, so it will coincide with the fall semester. She noted that the program has been designed in a manner so that students are able to complete the program within two years.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to create a quality online program for Limestone College,” Williams said. “Now that the program has been formally approved, we can dive into building the online courses, marketing, and recruiting students.”
In the Upstate of South Carolina, Williams noted that there is an urgent need for BSN degrees. She said that Nursing has long been the number one requested major in the area, and Limestone will be the only college in Cherokee County with a RN-BSN program.
With a shortage across the nation, Williams said more nurses are needed in order to comply with the influx of healthcare needs. Limestone will be able to produce well-educated and equipped nurses to a society in need. BSN nurses are able to meet the demands of a dynamic healthcare environment with competence in critical thinking, leadership management, professional communication, ethical decision making, health promotion, cultural sensitivity, resourcefulness, scientific reasoning, and knowledge application.
“We are pleased that SACS has given us this approval,” Williams noted. “I am also grateful to the Limestone community for its support while working on this program.”
She add that beyond the upcoming RN-BSN program, future plans are for Limestone to offer a traditional pre-licensure nursing program where students will be able to complete the nursing curriculum throughout their four years at the College.
Dr. Williams has been a nurse for 18 years. Educated at the University of South Carolina, she holds two baccalaureate degrees in Biology and Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as a family nurse practitioner, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Organizational Leadership. Before coming to Limestone, she served as nurse faculty influencing many students and nurses, coordinated clinical opportunities throughout the state, initiated successful distance and online programs, and led the construction of a high-fidelity simulation lab.
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