FLORENCE---A move is under way for Francis Marion University to assume administrative control of the baccalaureate nursing program being offered on its campus by the Medical University of South Carolina.
The leaders of FMU and MUSC have agreed in principle to transfer the administration of the program to FMU within the next few years. MUSC has operated the satellite nursing program as an adjunct program at Francis Marion since 1982.
FMU President Fred Carter has appointed a seven-member committee to assist with the transition of this nursing program to FMU. The community-based Health Sciences Development Committee appointed by Carter will make recommendations to help with that transition as well as examine the feasibility of creating other allied health care programs that would be consistent with the mission of FMU.
Florence physician and chairman of the FMU Foundation, Dr. Sompong Kraikit, will chair the committee. Vice chairman is FMU provost Richard Chapman, who oversees all of the university’s academic programs.
Other members of the committee are Bradley Callicott, executive director of the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation; William Coleman, Florence businessman and FMU trustee; Jay Kispert, vice president for business affairs at FMU; Sylvia Lufkin, vice president for patient services and administrator of Wilson Medical Center in Darlington, a division of McLeod Health; and James F. O’Loughlin, CEO of Carolinas Hospital System.
“There is a nursing shortage throughout South Carolina,” said Carter in announcing the appointments. “As part of our academic mission, we want to make sure we are meeting the demands of our primary service area.
“There is a need within the Pee Dee region for more bachelor-prepared registered nurse professionals,” he added. “The feedback we’ve gotten from the region is that there is wide support for FMU to produce more health care professionals. With our strong science programs, it is natural for us to move in this direction.”
"The Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing shares Francis Marion University's goal of increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses to serve the citizens of our state," said Gail Barbosa, associate dean for academics at the MUSC College of Nursing. "We support their efforts and would be pleased to assist them in the transition."
According to a 2001 study produced by the S.C. Colleagues in Caring Project, only 34 percent of South Carolina registered nurses have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 44 percent nationally. However, only 22 percent of total registered nurses in seven Pee Dee counties have a bachelor’s degree, according to 2002 data from the Office of Research and Statistics of the Budget and Control Board.
Carter said this move is supported by the two hospital systems headquartered in Florence, McLeod Regional Medical Center and Carolinas Hospital System, as well as hospitals throughout the region.
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, taught by five faculty members. Over the last 22 years, 435 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 currently 204 pre-nursing majors enrolled at FMU, more than a 100 percent increase since 1999 and up 37 percent since last year.
“With this many students interested in a nursing career, our goal will be to develop a program that turns out more qualified nurses to meet the demand of the health care profession,” said Carter.
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