The University of South Carolina-Upstate and the College of Charleston will partner to offer a dual-degree program that will enable students at CofC to earn two degrees in five years: one degree in biology and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from USC Upstate’s Mary Black School of Nursing.
Third-year biology students who have completed required prerequisite courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0 will be able to apply for the fast-track program beginning this fall, according to a news release.
“We’ve developed a pathway for College of Charleston biology students to transition into USC Upstate while identifying high-caliber students who are interested in graduating from the Mary Black School of Nursing,” Shirleatha Lee, dean of the nursing school, said in the news release. “A lot of the students who go to the College of Charleston for their biology degree are from the Upstate area, so this is an opportunity for some of them to return home to finish their degrees and work in the medical centers that serve their communities.”
Approximately 70% of the nurses employed by Spartanburg Medical Center, for example, are graduates of the Mary Black School of Nursing. The school touts a high placement rate for graduates, the release said, with nearly 90% passing the National Council Licensure Examination on their first attempt.
“We are very excited about this partnership with USC Upstate because it provides a pathway for our incoming CofC freshman to earn their biology degree and be guaranteed acceptance into a top nursing school,” Sebastian van Delden, interim dean of CofC’s School of Sciences and Mathematics, said in the news release. “Earning both biology and nursing degrees will enable students to be more competitive for a variety of professional opportunities and advanced degrees in their future careers.”
Staff advisers on both campuses will also assist students to ensure they are meeting the program’s requirements, the release said. USC-Upstate has a similar dual degree program in partnership with North Greenville University.
According to a 2017 study (.pdf) by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, South Carolina is one of four states in the nation facing a nursing shortage expected to exceed 10,000 positions by 2030.
“I’ve spoken to nearly a dozen chief nursing officers at hospitals across the region,” Lee said in the release. “The message they share is the same: The nursing shortage is real, it is pervasive, and if left unaddressed, it will negatively impact the health of the state in the next decade.”s