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Trustees OK Duke Nursing School's Accelerated Bachelor's Program

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University's Board of Trustees Friday
approved an accelerated bachelor's of nursing (BSN) program at
Duke's School of Nursing, the first undergraduate degree
offered by the school since 1984.

By graduating about 40 nurses every year, the School of
Nursing hopes its "Fast Track to
Professional Nursing
" program will be one solution to the
nation's critical shortage of nurses.

"Nurses are key members of any quality health care team,"
said nursing school dean Mary Champagne, Ph.D., R.N. "Our
program is designed to attract the best and the brightest to
the nursing field, and through rigorous education and training,
graduate outstanding professional nurses."

The Helene Fuld Health Trust, HSBC Bank Trustee, has pledged
to help make this program possible with a $6 million
philanthropic gift, the largest gift in the nursing school's
history. The Helene Fuld Health Trust is the nation's largest
private foundation devoted exclusively to nursing
education.

The last hurdle for the program will be obtaining approval
from the North Carolina Board of Nursing, scheduled for late
spring.

The Fast Track to
Professional Nursing
program is open to anyone currently
holding a bachelor's degree in either the liberal arts or
sciences. By building on students' previous bachelor's degrees,
the accelerated BSN program allows its students to graduate
with a BSN in 16 months of full-time study. No previous health
care experience is required. The classes are set to begin in
September.

"We know there are a great number of college graduates who
are interested in pursuing a nursing career," said Champagne.
"We want to aggressively recruit these men and women and offer
them an opportunity for a rewarding career as a professional
nurse."

The Duke program will require all the traditional nursing
courses found in four-year BSN programs and, in addition, will
include graduate level courses. Also, 1,000 clinical hours are
an integral part of the program. Michelle Renaud, Ph.D., R.N.,
director of the accelerated BSN program, said the amount of
clinical training truly sets Duke's program apart from other
BSN programs in the country.

"The number of clinical hours we require is head and
shoulders above other programs," said Renaud. "Also, by
offering students the opportunity to take graduate hours, we
are already giving them a step up to becoming a master's
prepared nurse, which opens up more career opportunities."

In addition to hiring Renaud as director, the program has
brought in Patricia Allen, Ed.D., as its associate director,
and Ann White, R.N., as its director of the clinical lab. The
accelerated program's classrooms and offices will be on Ninth
Street, a separate location from the main School of Nursing
site on Trent Drive. The tuition cost will be about $32,000 for
the 16-month program. Renaud said financial aid is available
for students who qualify.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, there will be 800,000
positions for registered nurses (RNs) available between 1998
and 2008. Nationally, the average age of all RNs is 44.3, and
only 31.7 percent of working RNs are under the age of 40. Fifty
percent of the current nursing workforce will reach retirement
age in the next 10 to 15 years.

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