WCU online nursing program offers options to WNC nurses

At a time when most people have spring fever, Pardee Hospital nurse Jeanette Burrell can hardly wait for fall. Having completed her associate degree in nursing at Blue Ridge Community College in 2002, the 55-year-old former paramedic and volunteer firefighter will begin work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing through Western Carolina University as fall semester begins in August.

Burrell will participate in Western’s RN to BSN track, which is offered primarily online. “Jeanette’s clinical experiences in community health nursing and management will be tailored to suit her individual needs close to home,” said Barbara St. John, WCU assistant professor of nursing.

In addition to face-to-face orientations at WCU’s facilities in Enka to build a sense of community with other students hailing from Murphy to Morganton, Burrell will be able to take some classes in her workplace at Pardee, where Western plans to offer teleconference meetings.

For St. John, seeing Burrell enter WCU’s “RN to BSN” program is very fulfilling. “When I was a nursing instructor at Blue Ridge Community College several years ago, Jeanette was my student,” St. John said. “With the completion of her associate degree in nursing, she became a registered nurse. Now that she is working as a nurse, it is good to see her passion for knowledge continue as she pursues her bachelor’s degree in the field.”

Sally Davenport, vice president of nursing services at Pardee Hospital, says she is pleased about nursing education opportunities through BRCC and WCU, and that Pardee provides financial support to those who choose to pursue nursing education. Nursing staff who complete their degrees not only grow professionally and personally, but gain increased knowledge and skills that enhance health care services, Davenport said. “I have always been proud of Jeanette’s nursing care and am very pleased that she has chosen to pursue her degree,” she said.

Pardee Hospital nurse Jeanette Burrell gets guidance from Barbara St. John of the Western Carolina University nursing faculty.

Pardee Hospital nurse Jeanette Burrell gets guidance from Barbara St. John of the Western Carolina University nursing faculty.

Jeanette’s husband, Bob Burrell, said he is thrilled that this opportunity is available, especially now that their children are older. “This is her time, and I’ve never seen anyone who wants to help people so much, between her work as a paramedic and her nursing care at Pardee Hospital, it is clear that this is what she ought to do,” he said. “What’s great about this program is that Jeanette can keep her nursing job while working toward her degree.

Western Carolina University will host an information session about its RN to BSN program on Monday, April 10, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Western Carolina Partnership for Aging and Education office on the corner of U.S. Highway 64 W. and Fleming Street in Hendersonville. WCU nursing faculty will be available to answer questions, provide packets of information and distribute applications.

For more information, contact Western’s regional director of education outreach, Marcia Caserio, at (828) 693-8375 or e-mail mcaserio@wcu.edu.