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Study of Nursing Programs Approved for Community Colleges

Posted February 8, 2008

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— The State Board of Community Colleges on Friday approved a contract for a study to help identify the best ways for community colleges to respond to North Carolina’s shortage of nurses.

The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will conduct the study, which will focus ideas to improve program retention and increase pass rates on licensing exams for students enrolled in Associate Degree Nursing programs in the North Carolina Community College System.

The $65,137 contract runs until June 30, 2008.

The North Carolina Community College System prepares the majority of registered nurses educated in the state.

The State Board is undertaking the study in response to recent trends that indicate the state has a nursing shortage and will face growing demand, with the possibility that by 2020, the supply of registered nurses in North Carolina will only meet 70 percent of the demand.

According to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, 8,129 new registered nurses began active in-state practice in the state from 2005 to 2006. An analysis by North Carolina Health Professions Data Systems shows that only 51.5 percent of those nurses were educated in North Carolina.

Of those North Carolina-educated registered nurses, nearly 65 percent earned their credentials in one of the 55 Associate Degree Nursing programs in North Carolina’s community colleges.

The state, however, loses a number of potential registered nurses, because more than 40 percent of the students now going into community college ADN programs drop out for academic, financial, personal or other reasons.

Identifying reasons for the attrition rate and analyzing the best practices of the most successful community college nursing programs are two key aspects of the study.

The study will also look at appropriate measurements for student progress and success, including graduation rates, student performance on licensure examinations and job placement rates within a year of graduation.

Initial findings are due April 30. The goal is to have data in time for the short session of the General Assembly.

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