LUMBERTON — Every nursing student at Robeson Community College and at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke passed the national licensure exam this year, according to school representatives. All but one have found jobs.
Nursing occupations are growing faster than any other occupation in the state — and have a growth outlook of 26 percent, according to the United States Department of Labor. Median yearly salary for a registered nurse was $64,690 during 2010, according to the department.
“We are really proud of this achievement because it speaks to the high quality of instruction and the high quality of our graduates,” said Barbara Synowiez, chairperson of the Department of Nursing at UNCP.
For UNCP, 2011 marked the second consecutive year that graduates recorded a 100 percent passing rate. For RCC, the number has been more than 10 years in the making.
“We’ve made a significant improvement,” said Eva Meekins, director of RCC’s Nursing Program. “We’ve implemented several changes, and we believe we have the right formula.”
One change was establishing a link between the two institutions; students at RCC now have the opportunity for academic advisement that allows a transfer to UNCP’s four-year Nursing Program to be done “seamlessly and at a lower cost,” Meekins said.
“Some students in our program need life options,” she said. “It’s not in their life budget to go to a university for four years and stop everything that’s happening in their lives.”
RCC has changed its curriculum to parallel the state exam blueprint in order to “ensure students are getting the information they need to be successful in practice and on the test,” Meekins said.
The school has also toughened credentials for instructors to require a Master’s degree, and has set up a “Center for Learning Excellence” within the program that allows one-on-one instruction between students and faculty.
UNCP’s Housing and Residence Life and the Department of Nursing will launch a “Living Learning Leading Community” in fall 2013 for freshman pre-nursing majors to live and take classes together.
“The community has been extremely popular with more than 100 students currently enrolled,” Synowiez said. “We’ve receive lots of positive feedback and great support from multiple university departments and administration.”
Meekins said that the administration at RCC “has adopted the mentality of assisting students that truly want to become nurses.”
“We’re seeing the results of a truly well-defined formula,” she said.
There were 19 total students in the RCC class, and all who have applied have found employment, according to Meekins. Synowiez said that all of UNCP’s nursing graduates who were seeking employment have been hired.
According to a report from the North Carolina Board of Nursing in 2011, statewide trends have shown an increase in BSN programs, instructors, and enrollees.