CSU begins nursing expansion

Dinos-Liollio Architecture Charleston Southern University broke ground Friday on an expansion to the school’s Derry Patterson Wingo School of Nursing building. The university plans to eventually double enrollment in its nursing program.

Charleston Southern University received more than two applications for each of the 60 slots available in its nursing program this year, so it’s expanding to meet the demand.

The school broke ground Friday on an expansion of its Derry Patterson Wingo School of Nursing building. The expansion will double the size of the facility, allowing the school to eventually double its enrollment, said nursing school dean Tara Hulsey. It should be complete next fall.

Growing the nursing program requires extra space for labs and classrooms, Hulsey said, It also requires more faculty and more clinical spots at local medical facilities where students can get hands-on experience. Charleston Southern already has made progress in both of those areas, she said.

The Medical University of South Carolina and Trident Technical College also have plans in the works to increase nursing school enrollment.

Hulsey said the $4 million expansion, which will be paid for with money raised in the university’s capital campaign, will include classrooms, offices and simulation labs, where students can get hands-on experience before dealing with human patients.

The nursing program now admits 60 students in the fall, she said. But it eventually will enroll 60 students in fall, and an additional 60 in the spring.

The school already has hired more four new faculty members, and will hire seven more next year, she said.

Charleston Southern’s bachelor of nursing program is not only in demand by students, but it will help the state reach a goal set by the Institute of Medicine to have 80 percent of its nurses hold bachelor’s degrees. Now, only about 30 percent of South Carolina nurses hold such degrees, she said.

Most Charleston Southern graduates remain in the area, Hulsey said. “It’s a way we can contribute to the Lowcountry and our state.”

Gail Stuart, dean of MUSC’s College of Nursing, said her bachelor’s degree program admits 60 students in the fall and 60 in January. About 300 people applied for the 60 slots available this fall in the 16-month, accelerated program. Most students who apply already have a bachelor’s degree or have completed all of the prerequisites for the nursing degree.

She hopes eventually to enroll 180 students each year, but will work gradually toward that goal. “Even increasing by 10 students each year would help,” Stuart said.

Trident Technical College broke ground in June on a new $30 million Nursing and Science Building on the college’s Main Campus in North Charleston. It should be complete in the fall of 2013, and classes will be held there beginning in January 2014, said spokesman David Hansen.

Trident Tech offers an associate degree in nursing as well as a nursing assistant program.

It currently enrolls 650 students, but will be able to admit about 1,000 when the new building is complete.

The school’s associate degree program has a long waiting list, Hansen said, and currently is admitting students for the spring of 2014.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.