ECU News Services
(Left to right) Meredith Mobley, Caleb Woolard, Hunter Hamilton, Rebecca Haislip and Morgan Dawson are members of the first class from the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses, or RIBN, program – a partnership with six community colleges in the East. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)
May 10, 2016
By Jules Norwood and Elizabeth WillyUniversity Communication
North Carolina’s need for more nurses is clear: the state’s elderly population is expected to double by 2020, and one in five nurses is nearing retirement age. But with those factors stressing the health care system, the need is for more than just nurses – but for more nurses educated at higher levels. “Research relates improved patient outcomes with nurses who have the four-year baccalaureate degree or higher,” explained East Carolina University College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown.About 50 percent of N.C.’s current nursing workforce is prepared at the baccalaureate or graduate degree level – far short of the North Carolina Future of Nursing Action Coalition’s goal of 80 percent. The remainder have a two-year associate degree in nursing. ECU produces more new nurses with baccalaureate degrees than any other program in the state, and is further answering the call to elevate the education of the state’s nurses with its RIBN, or Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses, program.Coordinated statewide by the nonprofit Foundation for Nursing Excellence, RIBN is an example of what can happen with an emphasis on accessibility and affordability for nursing students. It’s a partnership with six eastern North Carolina community colleges that enables students to first earn an associate degree in nursing at a participating community college and transition to complete their bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, online at ECU. Once students complete their associate degree and pass the state licensure exam at the end of their third year, they are able to begin working as nurses while they take the required online BSN coursework at ECU.This May, the program’s first class of five graduates earned their BSN at ECU. All five graduates have secured jobs — working in the positions they began as students in the RIBN program. Another 105 students are currently enrolled in the RIBN program at various stages. The program allowed RIBN graduate Morgan Dawson of Winterville to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who is also a nurse. She says the program gave her the valuable hands-on experience she needed to pursue her career of choice.
Below, a video from the College of Nursing celebrates National Nurses Week, May 6-12, and the first graduates of the RIBN program.