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S.C. State Overhauls Troubled Nursing Program

S.C. State Overhauls Troubled Nursing Program


South Carolina State University has teamed up with two health schools to overhaul its troubled nursing program, which saw half of its graduates fail the state nursing exam last spring.

The state Board of Nursing earlier this month approved the closing of the university’s old nursing program and waived the 18-month waiting period to implement the new one. The university will share faculty and research with the nursing and public health schools at the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina.

“I can’t imagine not having all kinds of positives coming out of this collaboration with these larger universities that obviously have more money than we do,” says Sam Glover, South Carolina State trustee.

The school’s nursing department is struggling amid a statewide nursing shortage that is expected to worsen as the population ages and many nurses retire. The majority-Black Orangeburg campus also is a potential source of Black nurses at a time when their numbers lag behind the state’s minority population.

Nationwide from 1998 through 2000, about 89 percent of recent nursing graduates passed the National Council Licensing Examination the first time they took it. It’s the test that lets them put “R.N.” after their names, for “registered nurse.”

Starting next semester, the university also will start a key element of the new nursing program — test students early and often.

Dr. Leola Adams, dean of the School of Applied Professional Sciences, says she wants to help students overcome “test anxiety” in order to be successful on the licensing exam.

Nursing is a difficult and extremely intense program, says Penelope Arnett, president of the North Augusta testing firm that will provide a series of 18 tests for each nursing student at South Carolina State.

Diagnostic tests will determine whether students need help with basic skills such as math, reading and graphing, used to note patients’ vital signs on charts. Later sessions will provide practice on tests that mimic the nursing exam.

“We should be able to help them find problem areas early,” Arnett says, and avoid the heartbreaking disappointment of failing the crucial test after four years of college.

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