Diana Evans had a bachelor's degree—and two teenagers of her own—when she enrolled in the nursing program at Trident Technical College in Charleston, S.C. "I did a lot of soul searching about the next stage in my life and realized nursing was my calling," she said.
While Evans was excited about the opportunity to pursue her dream, she found the testing more challenging than she had anticipated. "I was always a strong student," she said, "but I didn't realize how the critical thinking aspect of nursing would make testing so difficult."
Encouraging Nursing Students to Stay in School
Fortunately, Trident Technical College had a solution in place to support Evans and her peers. Thanks to The Duke Endowment's investment in nursing education in the Carolinas, the college had created a Nursing Resource Center to encourage students to stay in school.
"We were at capacity with enrollment, but our attrition was at the national average of 50 percent," said Anne Sass, Roper Hospital Foundation grants development officer. "We built the Center to improve academic outcomes of students, and we have been successful because of the grant."
In 2007, 77 percent of nursing students, including Evans, attended at least one activity at the Center. "The Nursing Resource Center has something for everyone," said Evans. "As soon as I enrolled in my first nursing class and heard about the Center, I went there immediately. The academic tutoring was helpful, but they also help with personal challenges like time management and balancing family with school. I had a student coach who inspired me, and when they later asked me to become a coach, it was exactly what I wanted to do."
The Center helped shift the learning culture at the College. "Before the Center, the students saw it as us versus them, but that's turned around," Sass said. "They see that we want to help them succeed."
With a three-year Endowment grant of $274,288, the college equipped its Nursing Resource Center to support students with:
- A reference library of nursing software, DVDs, and books
- Tutoring and academic assistance from peers
- Opportunities to network with other nursing students, including "myth buster" sessions between upper- and lower-classmen
- Presentations and workshops on academic skills
More Students Graduating with Help from Resource Center
The Center has achieved measurable success. Students graduating from program within two years rose from 21 percent (2004) to 37 percent (2008). Graduating class size rose from an average of 60-70 to 98 (2008), and the average GPA of nursing students rose from 2.18 (2005) to 2.394 (2008).
Evans is on track to graduate in May 2009. She's now a student tech and hopes to land a job in a surgical trauma ICU.
"The Nursing Resource Center was a big part of my success in school," said Evans. "If there's anything you need, the Center is there to give it to you. I can't imagine going through school without it."
Lin B. Hollowell III
Director of Health Care