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College Part of Effort to Create a More Highly-Educated Nursing Workforce in North Carolina

A grant from The Duke Endowment will create a seamless transition from PCC to ECU for Pitt nursing graduates who want to complete bachelor's degrees.

Over the next three years, grant funding from The Duke Endowment will help Pitt Community College nursing graduates make a smooth transition to East Carolina University in order to complete bachelor’s degrees in the field.

In June, the Foundation for Nursing Excellence (FFNE) announced it had received a $1.37 million-grant from The Duke Endowment to expand the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) project. RIBN began in 2008 as a collaboration between Western Carolina University, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and FFNE to establish a seamless progression for nursing students to complete bachelor’s degrees.

Based on the project’s initial success, The Duke Endowment provided FFNE with grant funding to expand RIBN to five regional partnerships involving 14 associate degree and five university nursing programs throughout the state.

PCC is part of the Eastern North Carolina partnership, which includes ECU and Lenoir, Roanoke-Chowan and Beaufort County community colleges. ECU will accept a cohort of up to five students per community college in the first RIBN class in the fall of 2012.

According to FFNE, North Carolina needs to develop a more highly-educated nursing workforce to address the increasingly complex health care needs of citizens and to expand the pool of future nursing faculty and advanced practice nurses. In fact, the N.C. Institute of Medicine has recommended the state significantly increase the proportion of BSN-prepared nurses by 2020 in order to avert a workforce crisis.

Currently, more than 66 percent of North Carolina’s newly-licensed nurses enter the workforce with an associate degree in nursing while less than 15 percent of them achieve a BSN or higher nursing degree during their careers.

Because community colleges like Pitt play an integral role in educating the state’s nursing workforce, it has become increasingly important to identify ways for qualified community college nursing students to move seamlessly toward completion of baccalaureate degrees at the start of their nursing careers.