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Watts School of Nursing welcomes name change, new BSN program


Duke Health News Duke Health News

DURHAM -- Durham’s Watts School of Nursing, which is affiliated with Duke University Health System, is announcing a new name and nursing education program.

The school received approval in January by The University of North Carolina System Board of Governors to operate as a college and to begin offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program in January of 2020. The school also received approval this summer from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). 

Even with its new name and program, Watts College of Nursing will continue to draw upon its nearly 125 years of history in Durham, said Peggy Walters, Ed.D., MSN, director of nursing education at Watts School of Nursing. Watts is the oldest nursing program in North Carolina and the only remaining nursing diploma program in the state.

“As we enter our next chapter as the Watts College of Nursing, we are committed to embodying our storied history in Durham, the passion of our talented students and alumni, and our reputation for excellence in nursing education,” Walters said. “We look forward to educating future nurses with the BSN degree.”

Walters will be installed as the college’s president in September. Work is currently underway to transition the college’s current diploma program to the BSN program, to include changes to the college’s admissions policies and curriculum. The college is also currently recruiting its first cohort of 35 students to start the BSN program in 2020. 

Watts’ diploma program is no longer accepting applications and will graduate its last class in December of 2021. 

Every year, on average, 80 to 90 percent of Watts graduates start their nursing career within Duke University Health System (DUHS). To continue to meet industry and marketplace expectations, Duke Nursing’s “BSN 2020 Initiative” sets a goal for 80 percent of DUHS nurses to attain at least a BSN degree by 2020. This initiative is aligned with recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in their 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”

Newly hired nursing candidates at Duke University Health System are required to attain a BSN degree within five years of their employment start date.  

Duke University School of Nursing in Durham also prepares future nurses with an accelerated BSN program. Marion E. Broome, Ph.D., RN, dean and Ruby Wilson Professor of Nursing for the Duke University School of Nursing, said Watts is helping to contribute more nurses to the field who can meet growing needs in patient care. 

“The Watts School of Nursing is working to meet the growing need in ambulatory and critical care settings for more BSN-educated nurses,” Broome said. “We wish them well as they create new professional pathways for students into the nursing profession.”

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