HAMLET — Nursing students at Richmond Community College now have another avenue to pursue higher education without leaving the county.
Dr. Dale McInnis on Monday formally signed a Fair Transfer Promise agreement with Dr. T. Hampton Hopkins, president of the Charlotte-based Carolinas College of Health Sciences.
Around 20 RichmondCC nursing students sat in a lecture room in the Joseph W. Grimsley Health Science Building to learn about the opportunity.
“We’re trying to give community college students who are …graduating from associate degree nursing programs as many credits as they can get when they come to a bachelor’s of nursing program,” Hopkins said. “So we created this to be consistent with the other agreements that exist in the state between the UNC system schools and the private schools in the state.”
CCHS is owned by Atrium Health — formerly Carolinas HealthCare System — and is an accredited, public, nonprofit institution with associate, bachelor’s and certificate programs in several healthcare-related fields.
“We were created to be a pipeline engine for nursing and allied health professionals, building their own workforce,” Hopkins said.
Richmond is the first community college to sign on to the agreement, according to Hopkins.
“We want these students to have the ability to get this many credits, get that BSN degree for as inexpensively as they can,” Hopkins said, “…(and) allow these students to do that in a way that is seamless from their associate degree into the bachelor’s program.”
Hopkins said students won’t have to leave their community and there are no addtional on-site clinical hours — which received applause from the students attending the signing — since the program is completely online.
“Really, our commitment is to keep these nurses in their local community, working for their local healthcare systems, while getting their bachelor’s degrees,” Hopkins said.
Atrium’s healthcare network is primarily in the greater Charlotte-metro area from Kings Mountain to Huntersville and extends east to include offices in neighboring Anson, Stanly and Montgomery counties.
McInnis said that Patsy Stanley, director of the Career and Transfer Advising Center, could help interested students navigate the program or any other transfer scenario that helps them obtain their BSN.
“Some of you already have jobs waiting on you … and may already have plans worked out … but if you don’t, we want to make sure everybody can get where they want to go in the most cost-effective and time-effective way,” McInnis told the students.
The program can take from one year to 18 months, depending on the number of credit hours a student has and “how fast you want to move through the program,” Hopkins said.
“It’s flexible, it’s adaptive, it’s something that’s brand new and we’re excited to be the first ones to join you and sign up for it,” McInnis said.
RichmondCC’s nursing pinning ceremony and graduation are coming up within the next two weeks.
“I’m very proud of all of you and want you to succeed,” McInnis said.