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WSSU leading state efforts to redesign nursing curriculum

Future nurses in training at simulation lab.

Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) School of Health Sciences is piloting a statewide initiative that aims to increase the number of baccalaureate-level nurses in North Carolina.

WSSU has received $75,000 in funding from the North Carolina Community College System to develop a pilot program to redesign the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Nursing (RN-BSN) curriculum.

Dr. Cecil Holland

“Through the pilot, WSSU nursing faculty will design a RN to BSN curriculum model that is self-paced and competency-based. The model could allow registered nurses to receive their BSN in less than a year,” said Dr. Cecil Holland, associate dean and chief operating officer of nursing at WSSU.

A landmark study by the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation purports that by 2020 at least 80 percent of nurses should be prepared at the baccalaureate level. As hospitals across the nation seek magnet certification and recertification, the BSN degree is in great demand, Holland said, and is becoming the minimum degree requirement for many magnet hospitals in the state.

“Research supports that patients treated by baccalaureate-trained prepared nurses have better recoveries and better healthcare outcomes,” he added.

WSSU will incorporate employer and community college partner input into the development and redesign. As part of the program, WSSU also will lead statewide efforts to develop professional development opportunities and training for community college and university faculty related to the curriculum pilot.

WSSU has one of the largest RN-BSN programs in North Carolina, with 15 sites across the state and online.

The shortage of nurses has been an ongoing problem in the United States, and as baby boomers age into retirement, the need will continue to grow.

The funding for the pilot is from the state leadership portion of the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Act of 2006.

WSSU offers the RN-BSN option online and through these cohort sites:

Alamance Regional Medical Center, Burlington
Appalachian Center at Hickory
Cleveland Community College, Shelby
Duke Medical Center, Durham
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst
Forsyth Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem
McDowell Hospital in Marion
Randolph Community College in Asheboro
Wake Medical Center and Rex Hospital in Raleigh
Rockingham Community College in Wentworth
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Kannapolis
South Piedmont Community College in Monroe
UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill

The principal investigator on this project is Dr. Alfreda Harper-Harrison, director of the RN-BSN Option at WSSU. Dr. Leslee Shepard, assistant dean for curriculum and instruction and Dr. Holland are co-principal investigators.

For more information on the program, please email

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