What exciting times for the nursing profession! In the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS) we are experiencing unprecedented changes as we respond to rapidly-evolving shifts in healthcare, the economy, and nursing education.
As we focus on excellence in our undergraduate and graduate programs, we are faced with two especially critical challenges: augmenting our fiscal and physical resources in the face of shrinking state funding, and recruiting and retaining highly-qualified nurse faculty in the midst of the national nursing faculty shortage.
In these strained economic times, educational institutions strive to identify external funding sources. To that end, the CNHS established a Board of Visitors in 2010 to increase visibility of our college in the community, and to pursue initiatives supportive of the College. The Canup Endowed Chair in Nursing, established to honor one of the most revered physicians in Anniston, has raised $95,000 to date for a perpetual endowment. As part of the initiative to generate support for nursing, Wells Fargo provided $25,000 in student scholarships that were awarded in April, 2011, along with more than 20 other nursing scholarships. The CNHS was the recipient of a $50,000 gift that funded computers and software to integrate electronic medical records in the curriculum. Although in recent years we have increased the number of student computers from 16 to 65, those resources are inadequate with the shift to electronic charting and online testing and course delivery strategies. Our current campaign is to raise $50,000 to support the creation of an additional 65 computer lab in Wallace Hall.
Faculty development continues to be a priority. One facet of our Strategic Plan is to award reduced workload to faculty who are engaged in doctoral study. This faculty development program has been extremely successful; 11 of our 24 faculty are doctorally prepared, with others in doctoral study.
Enrollment reflects some of the most striking changes and challenges in the CNHS. The first 22 years of my tenure at JSU, student enrollment hovered in the mid to low 200s. When I assumed the dean's position in 2004, enrollment was 240. In Spring 2011, enrollment was 610! Admission to the generic BSN program is fixed at 64 in fall and spring. Limited enrollment in the generic BSN program is determined by classroom size, the 8:1 student to faculty ratio for clinical, availability of clinical sites, and number of faculty. To our regret, many qualified applicants to that program are denied admission each year simply because we cannot accommodate larger classes. Our STEP program, with 287 students, has experienced unprecedented growth! This RN to BSN program is extremely successful due to the superb curriculum that guides practicing RNs to explore other nursing roles, healthcare policy, genetics and genomics, leadership, ethical dilemmas, and management of "populations." The STEP program can be completed in one year once prerequisites are finished. The MSN program prepares graduates as Clinical Nurse Specialists in Community Health. MSN students respond enthusiastically to the flexibility of "defining" their "community of interest." This program, which prepares advanced practice nurses, enables graduates to write for national certification. Many of our MSN students also pursue the Nursing Education Certificate that better prepares them for a career in academia.
Everything we do in the CNHS is about excellence. Faculty are passionate about delivering the highest-quality programs possible! We continuously evaluate and improve the curricula. Our interactions and decisions are student focused and outcome driven. Graduates of our three programs (generic BSN, STEP, and MSN) continue to have a profoundly positive impact on the healthcare of our citizens.