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Beginning in the fall 2014 semester, the Mary Black School of Nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate will offer a master of science degree in nursing with a concentration for a clinical nurse leader (CNL).

USC Upstate’s Mary Black School of Nursing is one of only two universities in South Carolina offering this master’s degree program for CNL. The CNL is an emerging nursing role developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing designed to improve the quality of patient care and prepare nurses with the competencies needed to thrive in the current and future healthcare system.

“Our reputation at USC Upstate as an excellent nursing school at the baccalaureate level will be greatly enhanced with the addition of the advanced degree,” noted Dr. Katharine Gibb, interim dean of the Mary Black School of Nursing. “The current programs in South Carolina offering a master’s degree focus on the nurse practitioner or nurse educator roles. We will now be able to attract those students wishing to advance their careers and contribute to improving the healthcare of our community and beyond.”

The master’s of nursing in clinical nurse leader is a natural and logical “next step” for the Mary Black School of Nursing, according to Dr. Charles F. Harrington, senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at USC Upstate.

“Given our commitment to excellence in healthcare education and to addressing regional nursing workforce needs, this degree program will permit the University to extend its reach into graduate nursing education,” he said. “The program will also allow us to continue to attract and retain the very best and brightest nursing faculty.”

The CNL oversees the lateral integration of care for a distinct group of patients and may actively provide direct patient care in complex situations. She or he puts evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery, emphasized Gibb.

Classes will commence in August 2014. All didactic content will be delivered online. Qualified applicants must possess the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) and an active license as a registered nurse (RN) in any of the compact nursing states for licensure.

“By offering the didactic portion online, students have the freedom and flexibility to remain in their communities and attend classes while continuing to work and be with their families,” said Gibb. “We anticipate applicants from the Upstate primarily because of our reputation, but we also expect applicants from throughout the state and beyond because we will not have the geographic or time limitations of a fixed schedule in a classroom.”

Projected enrollment in the first year is 18 RN students with anticipated graduation in two years with full-time participation and three years with part-time participation. Clinical practicums are in the last three semesters and can typically be completed at the student’s local hospitals. Upon completion of the program, graduates must pass the CNL certification examination which is based upon a national standard of requisite knowledge and experiences.

“The addition of the MSN in CNL is a perfect complement to the incredible work and vision of the Mary Black School of Nursing,” said Harrington. “Because this degree program focuses on clinicians, it will directly contribute to building the foundation of excellence that has come to typify nursing and healthcare in the Upstate.

Applications will be available in Spring 2014 on the USC Upstate website, www.uscupstate.edu/academics/nursing. For more information, contact Margaret Hindman, director of graduate studies in nursing, at 864-503-5454 or mhindman@uscupstate.edu.

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