Welcome Address from the Dean of the School of Health Sciences

Photo of Karen Gittings

Welcome to Francis Marion University (FMU) School of Health Sciences, and thank you for visiting our website!  An education in the health sciences is an excellent career choice. The healthcare industry continues to grow as the US population, particularly the elderly population, continues to increase. Healthcare reform mandates access to medical care for all. As these trends continue, the need for health services will grow, in addition to the demand for qualified healthcare providers. It is predicted that career opportunities in healthcare will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. In the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, healthcare providers are in high demand and opportunities exist in a wide variety of settings. The School of Health Sciences is organized into four departments and programs of study including healthcare administration, nursing, occupational therapy, and speech language pathology.

Healthcare Administration (HCA) is a multidisciplinary undergraduate program that emphasizes the development of knowledge and skill in healthcare management, leadership, education, research, and practice. Graduates are prepared to advance to leadership roles within healthcare organizations or within their own specific allied health discipline. The Healthcare Administration program has two tracks, the general track for those students with no previous healthcare related degree and the clinical track for those students who have completed an associate’s degree in Respiratory Care, Radiologic Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology, or a certified/licensed healthcare discipline deemed applicable.

Nursing is a versatile profession that encompasses many career options and pathways, and the nursing program at FMU can assist you in receiving one of the best Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees in South Carolina. The BSN is the sought after degree for nurses because of the scientific knowledge explosions in the field of health and current research that demonstrates that BSN nurses improve patient outcomes (Aiken, 2003). The BSN degree has two track options: pre-licensure nursing and RN to BSN. We also offer three graduate Master of Science in Nursing degrees: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, as well as a Post-Masters, three-course, Nurse Educator Certificate. The DNP program has two tracks: BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP. We are eager to tell you about our state-of-the-art nursing programs that are growing every semester. The growth we are experiencing is not only in student population but also in technological resources and innovative curricular design. The nursing faculty at FMU has extensive experience in teaching, and they are all well-versed in active teaching/learning strategies and current nursing practice. The Nursing program offers students excellent clinical sites for practice in area hospitals, out-patient, long-term care, and community facilities. The students, faculty, and staff of the FMU Nursing program pride ourselves on being an integral and vital part of the larger Pee Dee community.

The Speech Language Pathology (SLP) program, which is a graduate degree, seeks to provide a comprehensive academic course of study combined with diverse clinical experiences in order to prepare outstanding allied healthcare professionals capable of providing high quality assessment and treatment for individuals with communication and swallowing disorders. In addition to clinical experiences within healthcare, school, and community settings, students will also gain knowledge and expertise through hands-on experience at the Francis Marion University sponsored speech clinic.

Our newest program, the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) Degree, is a graduate program with a curriculum focused on preparing entry level occupational therapy practitioners. Following an application for candidacy in December 2023, the program anticipates enrolling the first class in fall 2024 and will seek accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Graduates will be eligible for certification as a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and state.

The Health Sciences programs are housed in three beautiful buildings. The Frank B. Lee Nursing Building, which is on the main campus and houses the Healthcare Administration and BSN programs, is fully equipped with a 24-bed skills laboratory, four classrooms, and conference rooms. The Carter Center for Health Sciences (CCHS), which is in downtown Florence, is home to our high tech mannequins and our interprofessional simulation center, as well as classrooms and meeting spaces. CCHS is home to the graduate nursing and OT programs. The Hugh and Jean Leatherman Medical Education Complex houses the SLP program with newly renovated clinic space; additional health science programs are planned for this location in the future. Besides being able to offer students a stimulating learning environment, these spacious educational buildings offer a tranquil space for students to study, socialize, and network. Please come visit and experience the energy, caring, and commitment of the students and faculty for yourself. We know you will want to join us in our mission to promote futuristic, quality care to the population of the Pee Dee region and beyond!


Dr. Karen Gittings, DNP, RN, CNE, CNEcl, Alumnus CCRN
Dean, School of Health Sciences
Professor of Nursing