Nursing Department will begin teaching graduate courses in 2013

Rachel Baggett, Staff Writer

The Francis Marion University Nursing Department has received approval from the Commission of Higher Education in South Carolina to begin teaching graduate-level courses for family nurse practitioners in the spring semester of 2013.

The graduate program will contain at least 17 new courses. To accommodate the new courses, new professors will be hired, along with a director to oversee the program.

The Nursing Department will also add new equipment for the graduate students to train with, such as an examination table. The current classrooms and labs in the Lee Nursing Building (LNB) will be used to teach the new courses, and the only change that will be made to LNB itself is the addition of offices for the new professors.

Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price, chair of the Nursing Department and professor of nursing, explained some of the requirements that prospective and current nursing students interested in the program will need to meet, such as a strong GPA.

“We want students to have a strong foundation in general education and sciences in order to be successful in this professional program,” Wittmann-Price said.

Currently, nursing students can earn their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the FMU Nursing Department in either one of two tracks: pre-licensure or after becoming a registered nurse (RN).

Those students who wished to continue their education to become a family nurse practitioner would then have to apply to a graduate nursing program, such as the programs in Columbia and Charleston.

However, with the addition of the new graduate program, students can now receive the full training to become a family nurse practitioner at FMU.

Also, those students enrolled as a nursing undergraduate at FMU will be allowed to take one or two of the graduate courses if they meet the necessary requirements.

FMU and the Nursing Department aren’t the only ones excited about the new graduate program; current nursing students are also showing their excitement.

“I have about two dozen nursing students that call me on a regular basis for an update about the program,” Wittmann-Price said.

The approval of the program is another accomplishment that the Nursing Department can add to an already achievement-filled year.

The Nursing Department recently received eight full years of accreditation from National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission, and all of the May 2011 pre-licensure graduates who took the National Council Licensure Examination for their RN license passed on their first attempt.

The coming semesters will see the largest class of nursing students ever at the university with 72 students admitted in the fall and 32 admitted in the spring.