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The Charleston Southern University Board of Trustees unanimously voted last week to expand enrollments in the University’s Derry Patterson Wingo School of Nursing. The University will begin enrolling additional students this fall with plans to triple annual enrollment to 120 by 2014.

“Our program provides a significant value-based learning experience through a distinctly Christian curriculum with experienced faculty devoted to excellence,” said Dr. Tara Hulsey, Dean of CSU’s School of Nursing.

The expansion marks the first time CSU has expanded the nursing program since 2007 when the University increased enrollment in the BSN program from 30 to 40 students. The move seeks to address increasing enrollment demand and the current nursing shortage.

Charleston Southern’s nursing program has 206 students enrolled in prenursing, 100 of them are actively in one of the current programs. As the program expansion begins, so will the need for more classroom space. The University is designing a formal plan to expand the Derry Patterson Wingo School of Nursing facility.

The CSU School of Nursing added a bachelor of science in health promotion degree in 2007. In 2009, the RN-BSN program was expanded to an online curriculum, and a master of science in nursing degree that focuses on preparing nurse educators was added.

The Charleston Southern nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and is a member of the National League for Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Since enrolling its first class in the fall of 1995, the Derry Patterson Wingo School of Nursing has experienced tremendous growth. Through funding partnerships with Roper St. Francis and Trident HCA, CSU has added faculty and cutting edge technology, including the addition of the i-Stan simulator by Meti in 2008.

Dr. Jairy C. Hunter, Jr., President of Charleston Southern, said that “the leadership and commitment of Dean Tara Hulsey and our dedicated faculty are helping the University achieve its vision of integrating faith in learning, leading and serving.”

CSU’s School of Nursing has one the highest four-year pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) of all accredited B.S. in Nursing programs in South Carolina. Since 2006, Charleston Southern students have a combined 97 percent pass rate. This national exam is required to receive a license to practice.

“You can’t have pass rates like that unless you have stellar faculty,” explained Dr. Hulsey. “We have small faculty-to-student ratios, so the students get a lot of hands-on experience.”

Hulsey added that the integration of computerized assessment testing, given to students throughout the curriculum, has provided both the students and faculty with a regular measure of competency. The ATI exams (Assessment Testing Inc.), a set of unique, critical-thinking application questions, provide nursing students with the necessary knowledge to master the NLCEX board exam.

“There are so many factors that contribute to our NCLEX pass rate,” said Hulsey. “We have students taking computerized tests using NCLEX-based test questions from the very beginning of the program.”