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Friday, January 13, 2012

Agreement signed to transition RCC’s nursing graduates into UNCP

Advancing nursing education was the issue at hand Monday morning as leaders of Robeson Community College (RCC) and UNC Pembroke signed an agreement to benefit nurses and improve community health.

Seated from left: RCC President Charles Chrestman and UNCP Chancellor Kyle Carter. Standing from left: Eva Meekins, RCC’s nursing director, Mark Kinlaw, RCC’s vice president for Instruction and Support Services, Dr. Ken Kitts, UNCP’s provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Barbara Synowiez, UNCP’s nursing chair.

Seated from left: RCC President Charles Chrestman and UNCP Chancellor Kyle Carter. Standing from left: Eva Meekins, RCC’s nursing director, Mark Kinlaw, RCC’s vice president for Instruction and Support Services, Dr. Ken Kitts, UNCP’s provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Barbara Synowiez, UNCP’s nursing chair.

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In RCC’s Nursing and Health Sciences Building, college President Charles V. Chrestman and UNCP Chancellor Kyle R. Carter agreed to ease the transition for graduates of the community college’s registered nursing (RN) program into UNCP’s Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) program.

The path for RCC’s nursing graduates will include general education courses in a “bridge” program at RCC before transferring to UNCP to complete requirements for a BSN. The agreement seamlessly transfers RCC courses into academic credits at UNCP.

Both leaders hailed the RN-BSN Bridge Programs Articulation Agreement and the strong working relationship between the two institutions.

“This is the third partnership agreement RCC has signed with the university since I have been here,” President Chrestman said. “This is mutually beneficial to both institutions and our graduates.”

Chancellor Carter said the agreement is also important to the community. “There are lots of opportunities out there, and I hope this is not the last agreement between our institutions,” he said. “Healthcare is really, really important in Robeson County, and this will lead to improved healthcare in our community as well as more jobs for our graduates.”

Eva Meekins, director of nursing at RCC, said the benefits of the agreement would be felt immediately. “One of our graduates will join the bridge program this spring,” she said. “We expect 80 percent of our graduates will enter a RN-to-BSN program.”

Meekins was pleased with the agreement. “We identified the need for this, and we have been working with UNCP for a year,” she said. “RN-to-BSN programs like UNCP’s are a priority for the state.”

RCC graduates 25-30 RNs a year, and advanced nursing training is a priority for North Carolina and RCC, said Sheila Regan, RCC’s assistant vice president for allied health and college transfer programs.

“Our college transfer programs are really growing,” Regan said. “This program is especially attractive to our graduates because they can join the workforce while getting a degree.”

Dr. Barbara Synowiez, chair of UNCP’s Department of Nursing, praised the working relationship between RCC and the university. She thanked Meekins, a former UNCP nursing instructor, and acknowledged two RCC instructors in the audience:  Kathy Locklear and Tina Jenkins are both UNCP graduates.

“We’ve had a wonderful relationship with RCC over the years, and we look forward to the future,” Dr. Synowiez said.

The agreement provides for transferring up to 64 credit hours, including general education and prerequisite courses. In addition, 30 nursing credits earned in RCC’s associate degree program will be transferred after completion of two UNCP gateway nursing courses.

Students will be required to complete at least 32 hours at UNCP. Academic administrators at both institutions have signed off on the agreement that meets the requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

For more information about the RN-BSN bridge program, please contact RCC’s admissions department at 910.272.3342 or nursing department at 910.272.3395.

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