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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Second Degree Nursing Program is Growing at SU

SALISBURY, MD---With a degree in international development studies from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Cheyenne Richmond moved across the country to pursue a nursing career in Salisbury University’s Second Degree Nursing Program. “I wanted to do something healthcare-oriented,” the 27-year-old former social services consultant and research assistant said. Why move several thousand miles to enter Salisbury’s program? For Richmond it was a matter of time and attention. Salisbury’s Second Degree Program allowed her to finish her Bachelor of Nursing in three semesters. That was what brought her to Salisbury initially, but she sees the greatest strength of the program as the personal attention from faculty. “You don’t get that at a larger university,” she said. “The faculty are really approachable. They’re right there by your side. I’m getting 100 percent more out of this degree than the last one.” For Beth Hickman, the fact that SU is close to her Frankford, DE, home was a plus. Hickman holds a degree in sports medicine from Elon University, but says her mother and best friend, both nurses, inspired her to go back “to pursue a career that I know will make me happy for a lifetime.” She appreciates the flexibility of being able to take up to two years off between the bachelor’s and master’s degrees if she chooses. For students with bachelor’s degrees who want to change careers and believe nursing is what they want to do, SU’s Second Degree Program is ideal. The program was established in 1992 when the idea of creating an accelerated B.S./M.S. program was relatively new. Dr. Lisa Seldomridge of the nursing faculty became involved in 1996 when the program was changed from five semesters to three. She has seen interest grow particularly with the current economic situation. The applicant pool for the fall 2004 class includes 62 people to date. Lisa Jeffers, who has more than 10 years’ experience in medical research and business management, could not find a well-paid job on the Eastern Shore. She received a scholarship for nursing school. “There was never a question of going elsewhere,” she said. Because second degree students have education, career and life experiences, the program requires fewer prerequisites than the basic baccalaureate in nursing and the curriculum is streamlined. Students must complete anatomy and physiology I and II, microbiology, statistics, chemistry or physics and pathophysiology before beginning the program. The education background of students in this program covers a wide range. Current students hold degrees in biology, psychology, medical microbiology, health and fitness and sports medicine, but there are also students with degrees in criminal justice, music education, anthropology, business administration, geography, languages and film. Several have master’s degrees in English, bioinformatics and elementary education. Though the majority of students are from this area, students come from all over the United States and as far away as Brazil and Nigeria. Their diverse backgrounds and maturity “bring something to the table,” according to Dr. Voncelia Brown, who teaches community health nursing, focusing on wellness and preventative care. Students get 12 hours’ experience per week in health departments and senior centers where their previous experience benefits patients. “The maturity and breadth of life experiences that these students bring to the course has taught me a lot,” Brown said. “They really want to know the ‘why,’” Seldomridge said. They challenge me. Many of them ask the really hard questions.” Cathy Walsh, who teaches community health and research, believes in the importance of baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate preparation in the nursing profession. “The issues and therapies are very complex today and merely being trained to plump pillows is not enough,” she said. “You have to understand what the patient needs. The nurse is a frontline problem solver. The Florence Nightingale role is still there, but the role is greatly enlarged.” For all these reasons, the second degree students’ added experience makes them ideally suited to go on to advanced roles. The program has even attracted students with medical degrees from other countries. Their background allows these students to work with patients “in an enlightened manner,” Walsh said. Student response to the program has been extremely positive. Richmond is so enthusiastic about the program, she is trying to recruit friends from California. “This has been an overwhelmingly positive experience,” she said.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.


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