The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education has approved Francis Marion University’s proposal to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program.
Thursday’s (May 5) action by the CHE, along with the approval granted earlier by the State Board of Nursing, means that FMU has now gained all the state approvals necessary to commence the BSN program.
President Fred Carter praised Provost Richard Chapman, Nursing Department Chair Sylvia Lufkin and the faculty for their hard work in getting the state approvals necessary for FMU to begin offering the new degree program.
The Medical University of South Carolina has operated a satellite nursing program as an adjunct program at Francis Marion since 1982. Carter and MUSC President Raymond S. Greenberg agreed in February 2004 to transfer administrative control of the baccalaureate nursing program to FMU. Lufkin was hired last fall to head FMU’s new Department of Nursing.
“With this new degree program, the Pee Dee will no longer be the only area of South Carolina without a stand-alone bachelor’s program in nursing,” said Carter. “Effective July 1, we will begin addressing the serious shortage of nurses facing the medical facilities in our region.”
Carter said that if Florence is to continue developing as a major medical center, local hospitals will require even more skilled nursing personnel in the future.
Last May, the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation of Florence made a $5 million donation to FMU’s Campaign for Excellence to build a 30,000-plus square foot building to house the new baccalaureate nursing program. To be located just north of the campus pond and adjacent to the McNair Science Building, the two-story building will contain all classrooms, patient care labs and support spaces needed for an expanded nursing program at FMU. Bids for construction will be sought soon.
MUSC began the satellite nursing program on the FMU campus in 1982 with five students enrolled. Today, there are 61 students enrolled as undergraduate nursing majors. Over the last 22 years, 462 students have earned degrees through this program. While those degrees were awarded by MUSC, those students completed many courses taught by FMU faculty.
In addition, there are more than 200 pre-nursing majors enrolled at FMU, more than a 100 percent increase since 1999.
“With this many students interested in a nursing career, our goal will be to broaden the program and educate more qualified nurses to meet the needs of the health care profession,” said Carter.