COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – As hospitals across the state report nursing shortages, the University of South Carolina College of Nursing graduated 91 students on Monday to enter this workforce, many of whom will remain in the state to care for the local community.
Graduates say that despite the rigorous coursework and demanding hours, each of them is eager to enter a field where you have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives daily.
“I love people and I want to be an advocate for people that need someone,” Carley Reynolds, a UofSC nursing graduate, said.
Lindsey Teal, also a graduating senior, echoed that sentiment.
“When you do nursing, you get to see somebody in the most vulnerable state that they can be in in the hospital and their families too,” she said. “And you get to do so many hands-on things to help them but also to comfort them emotionally and I think that’s really special and I really like to be a part of that.”
All 91 graduates crossed the stage at a critical time for the profession.
Data from the Bureau Health Workforce shows that South Carolina currently has the lowest nurse to population ratio in the country.
Additionally, the United States Department of Health and Human Services projects that the state will have the fourth-greatest need for nurses in the nation by 2030.
The college is working hard to change that through ramped up retention efforts with local hospitals.
“We are working very closely with our health partners to increase the exposure that our students have within their health systems and also to begin to have pipeline programs that have our students experience what it’s really like to be a nurse in the hospital setting so that they want to stay here and they know what it’s going to be like when they graduate,” Dr. Alicia Ribar, Associate Dean for Academics at the UofSC College of Nursing, said.
One such program with Prisma Health was started in the last year.
Both Teal and Carley Blackwell are among the graduates who have decided to stay local following graduation.
Teal will be staying in Columbia and working at the Prisma Health Richland Hospital in the coronary care unit.
Blackwell will be working at the Pelham Medical Center in Greenville. She said her capstone placement at the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center reinforced her passion for this work.
“This past semester I was in capstone so I’ve worked two 12s a week for the past semester,” she said. “So I worked nights at the VA and I’ve worked some days at the VA. And that was just, I basically got a touch of what nursing will be like in the real world and I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world honestly.”
The college says that on average, more than 70 percent of its graduating seniors will stay in South Carolina to practice nursing.
UofSC has one of the top nursing programs in the country. The passing rate for their national licensing exam is in the top 1 percentile.
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