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Students (from left) Gabrielle Primeaux, Samantha Mushrush and Will Douglas work in a biology lab taught by Assistant Professor Thomas Giardina at the Associate in Arts Program in Georgetown.
Wilbert Douglas was a high school student in Laurel, Delaware, when he first started thinking about a career in nursing.
He knew that he liked science, he said, and he had always had
positive experiences when he visited a hospital mostly because of the
skilled and compassionate nurses he saw there.
I like how nurses make you feel comfortable because theyre caring
and they know their jobs, said Douglas, a first-year student in the
University of Delawares Associate in Arts Program
(AAP) in Georgetown. I thought Id like a job where your work is
challenging and different every day and youre also really helping
Today, Douglas is in the first cohort of 28 students in the new joint education program between UD and Beebe Healthcares Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing in Lewes, Delaware. The partnership between the two institutions was finalized last year and launched this fall.
Like other AAP students at the Georgetown location, those in the dual
enrollment program take UD classes taught by University faculty members
and earn a two-year associate degree. But while other AAP graduates
generally transition to the Universitys Newark campus and complete a
bachelors degree, the dual enrollment students complete a third year of
study at the Rollins School of Nursing, the only hospital-based nursing
program in Delaware, and earn a diploma in professional nursing in
addition to their associate degree from UD.
Beginning in their second year in the joint program, the students
take Rollins as well as UD classes. Their third year consists of
clinical education and hands-on nursing experience at Beebe Healthcare.
After finishing the three-year program, graduates are eligible to
take the licensing exam for registered nurses. With their RN license in
hand then, many expect to begin their nursing careers and to earn a UD
bachelors degree through the online baccalaureate program for the
registered nurse (BRN) offered in the College of Health Sciences.
As the end of their first semester approaches, Douglas and other
students who make up the first cohort of the new partnership are
enthusiastic about the dual enrollment program. They said it was an
obvious choice, allowing them to earn valuable credentials while saving
money and staying close to home in Sussex County.
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Thomas Giardina answers a question from student Lauren Carter.
My mom is a nurse, and I know its important for RNs to have a
degree, but I didnt want to go away to college, so this program was
perfect, said Lauren Carter of Georgetown. I want to get a bachelors
degree, and I should be able to do that in four years. And I love Sussex
County, so Id like to stay and work here.
For Gabrielle Primeaux, who says shes wanted to be a nurse
forever, the intensive hands-on clinical education offered by Rollins
drew her to the program. She was also looking for an affordable way to
earn a degree and a nursing diploma, noting that many new high school
graduates are eligible for state Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED)
We have small classes and we all study together and help each other
with the transition to college, Primeaux said of the Associate in Arts
And then, when we start clinicals at Beebe, well get to know the
people there, and our instructors will be right there. I feel like when
we start our careers as new RNs, well really have a big head start.
David Satran, AAP director, said the partnership fosters that sense of community.
The strength of our collaboration is that it supports a diverse
cohort of students who work together to achieve a shared goal of earning
their UD associate degree, RN certification and ultimately their BSN
[bachelor of science in nursing degree], he said. They are advised by
UD professional staff who closely coordinate with colleagues at
The partnership will benefit not just the students but health care as
a whole in Delaware, said Emily Hauenstein, who is Unidel Katherine L.
Esterly Chair in Health Sciences and senior associate dean for nursing
and health care innovation at UD. The most recent workforce data
indicates that 33 percent of RNs in the state have bachelors degrees,
while the Institute of Medicine recommends that at least 80 percent of
nurses should have that education to improve patient outcomes, she said.
Hauenstein called the dual enrollment program a wonderful
opportunity to partner with Beebe in our joint goal of expanding the
nursing workforce in Delaware with high quality and diverse nurses.
The partnership, she said, ensures a clear pathway for nurses
educated in the Beebe program to obtain a BSN, ensuring that more nurses
will take the step to obtaining their baccalaureate degree. The
partnership also ensures that more nurses will remain to practice right
here in Delaware.
The program, housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, offers a
campus in each of Delawares three counties, small class sizes,
specialized advisers, low tuition costs and a growing number of academic
and social options.
We see more and more students and parents who realize the
cost-effective nature of the program and the advantages it offers,
Satran said. Its a pathway that students can choose a pathway to a
baccalaureate degree as a way to begin their Blue Hen experience.
And the partnership with the Rollins School of Nursing offers additional benefits to students, Satran said.
Many students want to stay close to home, he said. Were excited
to provide students with an opportunity to receive an RN, and later a
BSN, while in Sussex County.
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Kathy F. Atkinson