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UCF College of Nursing has welcomed seven new ranked faculty members this year as part of the university’s initiative to add 200 faculty members to high-demand workforce areas. Three existing faculty members have additionally been converted to ranked positions, and seven new instructors have been introduced to the undergraduate program.

New professors with notable research experience in the College of Nursing will provide students with a new level of skill and involvement. UCF students will be offered increased research opportunities, as well as a greater hands-on learning experience through simulation.

Dr. Mary Lou Sole, dean of the college, explained that these newly hired experts will not only help reduce faculty-student ratios, but will also provide nursing students with a higher quality of education in concentrated areas.

“By adding more faculty, our students have greater exposure to the most highly trained and educated nurse faculty in specialized areas,” she said. “We now have four nationally known faculty with simulation experience. ... Simulation in health care is one area for which we want to become nationally known.”

One of the new nursing experts, Dr. Annette Bourgault, is an assistant professor in the graduate department, whose research on critical care nursing has been widely published and recognized.

“My ultimate goal is to help nurses in critical care and acute care settings to incorporate research evidence into their clinical practice,” she said.

Aside from a variety of new faculty, the college is making strides in expansion of its programs and services readily available to students.

The biggest area of growth this past year has been the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program (RN to BSN), and the Dual Enrollment Concurrent Associate of Science in Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (Concurrent ASN to BSN). Sole said the college’s clinical partners are interested in more nurses with bachelor’s degrees.

Because of the national call for more BSN-educated nurses, Sole said the college is helping students earn their BSN degrees faster and get preference for hiring.

“We have established a new partnership with Health First in Brevard County to facilitate BSN education for their workforce,” Sole said. “We have also increased our enrollment in our Concurrent ASN to BSN partnership programs with Seminole State College and Valencia College.”

The college is also partnering with clinical agencies to provide opportunities for undergraduate nursing students, which will ultimately aid students in joining specialized high-need fields after graduation, such as the emergency department, surgery and critical care.

Moving forward, the College of Nursing strives to continue to provide students with a high-quality education. Sole said the specialized education offered to an exceptional pool of undergraduate and graduate students will put forth a group of advanced-practice nurses qualified for roles in nursing education, leadership, management and clinical settings.

“These newly licensed UCF graduates are exceptional nurses who will work in diverse settings and use their knowledge and expertise to promote quality and safe patient care,” Sole said.

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Rosie Reitze is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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