BC graduates first-ever nursing students - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

BC graduates first-ever nursing students

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Bluefield College's first ever nursing graduates (from left): Charlene Crouse, Linda Moore, Heather Surface, Robin Riddle and Christy Lambert. Bluefield College's first ever nursing graduates (from left): Charlene Crouse, Linda Moore, Heather Surface, Robin Riddle and Christy Lambert.

BLUEFIELD Va. (NEWS RELEASE) - When Bluefield College seniors walked across the stage to accept their diplomas,Saturday, May 4, 2013, during the school's traditional Spring Commencement, the ceremony signified more than just graduation for 122 BC students.

The 91st Annual Spring Commencement marked the first time in Bluefield College history a senior class included nursing graduates. Five registered nurses (RNs) in BC's degree completion program accepted their bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) to become the school's first ever RN-to-BSN graduates.

The nursing students were recognized individually during a separate School of Nursing ceremony following Commencement. Among those recognized in the first ever class of nursing graduates at Bluefield College: Charlene Stacey Crouse of Woodlawn, Virginia; Christy Jolene Lambert of Clintwood, Virginia; Linda Lou Moore of Hurley, Virginia; Robin Elizabeth Riddle of Tazewell, Virginia; and Heather Lee Surface of Bluefield, Virginia.

"This is an historic day," said Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs, who welcomed family and friends to the celebration. "The nursing profession is a noble profession, and I am humbled by the stories our students share about the patients they serve. This program exists to care for people and to make a difference in the lives of the people who need quality health care, but may not have access to it."

As part of the nursing celebration, the RN-to-BSN graduates participated in a pinning ceremony, during which time they received the official pin of the BC School of Nursing. The pin features a cross in the center, symbolic of the value the college places on the integration of faith in learning and the call on the graduates to be Christ-centered in their service as nurses.

The pin also includes an image of the Florence Nightingale lamp and a likeness of two clutched hands, representing the beacon of comfort, kindness, gentleness and courage Nightingale displayed as a nurse during the Crimean War and the hand of God holding the hand of a nurse. The outer circle of the pin lists four core values of the BC School of Nursing: respect, leadership, service and caring.

"You are the first to wear the Bluefield College School of Nursing pin," said Dr. Carolyn Lewis, dean of School of Nursing, to the 2013 RN-to-BSN graduates. "Wear it with pride."

The nursing graduates also participated in a pledging ceremony, during which time they vowed to "practice (their) profession faithfully," "do everything in (their) power to maintain and elevate the standard of the profession," and "devote (themselves) to the welfare of those committed to (their) care."

They also completed a commissioning service that challenged them to "protect and defend the dignity of every person," "care for the sick, the suffering and the disenfranchised with competence and confidence," "attend to and respect the whole person," and "fully engage in the art and science of caring with compassion for the sick regardless of the reason for their illness or the circumstances of their lives."

"You have now completed your course of studies and have been confirmed as recipients of a baccalaureate degree in nursing," said Dr. Lewis. "Now that you take leave of Bluefield College and continue to care for persons in our world, realize that you are empowered and commissioned. Therefore, go, touching the sick and promoting healthy lifestyles. Go in peace, and may God protect you from allharm and in every encounter in your future."

 Bluefield College announced the creation of its new nursing program in the fall of 2010 to meet a critical need in southwest Virginia for baccalaureate nursing education. Soon after, the college developed partnerships with regional community colleges to make the nursing program more accessible to RNs and associate degree graduates in southwest Virginia.

In 2011, BC hired Dr. Lewis, a Tazewell, Virginia, native with more than 20 years of experience in health care, to serve as dean of the School of Nursing. Dr. Lewis quickly earned accreditation for the program with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and began an additional accreditation process with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), a national voice for America's nursing education programs.

Delivered primarily online through the BC's inSPIRE degree-completion program -- a convenient, accelerated degree-completion curriculum designed to allow a working adult with prior college credit the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree in as little as 13 months -- the RN-to-BSN program is now affiliatedwith 23 community colleges through a partnership with the Virginia CommunityCollege System. And, just a few short years since the nursing program was envisioned, the school is celebrating its first graduates.

"This day would not be possible without the efforts of many, particularly Dr. CarolynLewis," said Dr. Shippey. "We are fortunate to have her leading this program. Without her dedication, we would not be where we are today."

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