Nursing program helps high school seniors

This fall, ECU and four area community colleges will team together to enlist high school seniors for an affordable nursing degree.

Beaufort County, Lenoir, Pitt and Roanoke-Chowan community colleges will participate in the Eastern North Carolina Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses program.

Interested students will apply at the community college of their choice by March 1 and fill out an RIBN application. Once students are accepted to the program, students will then apply to ECU and will be dually enrolled at one of the community colleges and the university.

Only 20 students will be accepted into the first class, with around five coming from each community college.

“We are looking for the best and brightest who want to get their BSN degree and who need an affordable way to do it,” said Kelly Cleaton, ENC RIBN’s student success advocate and lead recruiter. “It will be a rigorous program, but it will be more affordable and accessible to students who may not be able to leave home.”

A minimum score of 500 on the critical reading part of the SAT and several other requirements must be met to be considered.

“The program sounds like it’s going to be competitive, but worthwhile,” said senior Jordan Hubbard. “The fact that it will be a lot more affordable will attract a lot more students.”

The cost of the school will vary but it is estimated that RIBN students can save $7,000 to $10,000 in tuition, according to officials.

“They are going to have someone with them all the way through to support them, and they’ll have a group of people going through the exact same thing,” Cleaton said regarding the student’s access to support services and counseling.

The director of nursing for Pitt Community College, Elizabeth De Jesus Toderick, said that the partnership between Pitt and ECU results from a long and positive relationship between the two schools.

Pitt will continue to offer its associate’s degree in nursing for entry-level nurses, but the RIBN program will be a head start to an advanced degree.

The program will allow for a much cheaper program by cutting out room and board, while students who are married and work part-time jobs will be able to attend school more easily.

“It’s great to see a program like this starting up here,” said junior nursing major Jennifer Painter. “I just wish it, or something like it, had been around my freshman year.”

This is not the first partnership of this kind to exist in the state; Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College paired up with Western Carolina University in Fall 2010 to offer North Carolina’s first RIBN program.

The RIBN program comes to the east just after the North Carolina Institute of Medicine indentified the need for colleges and universities in the state to produce more baccalaureate prepared nurses by 2020.

Of newly-licensed nurses, only 66 percent enter the workforce with associate degrees in nursing and less than 15 percent of those actually achieve a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 

This writer can be contacted at news@theeastcarolinian.com

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