Nursing partners with CCTC

Robyn McNeil, Copy Editor

Beginning in June, nursing students will pursue their Bachelor of Science degree through Francis Marion University’s (FMU) newly developed partnership with Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC).

According to Devin Cribb, student services coordinator, the partnership was created in response to the Institute of Medicine’s request that 80 percent of registered nurses (RNs) obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by 2020.

Cribb explained that an FMU-CCTC partnership will help meet the demand as well as benefit the university and community.

“FMU cherishes all the partnerships that have been established with educational organizations in South Carolina because it ultimately means a better prepared nursing workforce for the state,” Cribb said.

The program can be completed in one year.  During that time, RNs will increase their skills in physical assessment, healthcare policy, pathophysiology, community nursing and geriatric and cultural care.

Participants in the CCTC associate program are advised on the pre-requisites needed and can complete them at FMU or CCTC. Once the pre-requisites are completed, Cribb explained, students can begin their nursing courses online.

Cribb said the nursing department is expecting a steady influx of learners now that the RN-to-BSN program is completely online.

Dr. Deborah Hopla, assistant professor and director of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)-family nurse practitioner (FNP) track, said FMU is one of 15 universities in the state which offers the RN-to-BSN program online.

“Francis Marion University is very progressive in nursing education,” Hopla said.  “The university currently offers two graduate nursing tracks: family nurse practitioner and nurse educator. Many RN-to-BSN students, upon completion, enter into the MSN programs. The faculty are always looking for innovate ways to bring in programs.”

Hopla explained that there is also a shortage of nurses who possess masters and doctoral degrees in the region.  The partnership, she said, will provide students with the proper education to help resolve the shortage issue.

“There are only 87 master’s-prepared nurses and five doctoral-prepared nurses in the Pee Dee,” Hopla said.  “The current master’s program will certainly aide in increasing the knowledge base for nursing in the Pee Dee.”

Another function of the program is to address the recent changes in the nation’s healthcare system.  According to Hopla, nurses who hold higher degrees are needed to meet patient increase.

“With the Affordable Care Act adding 30 million potential patients to the existing healthcare roles, more healthcare providers will be needed,” Hopla said.  “The aging faculty requires replacement.”

For more information about the FMU-CCTC nursing partnership, RN-to-BSN program and application process contact Cribb by phone at 661-1226 and e-mail at or visit the nursing department’s page on FMU’s website.