There is a shortage of doctoral-level nursing faculty prepared to teach the nurses and nurse researchers of tomorrow. In the western areas of North Carolina, there are no Ph.D. in nursing education programs offered.

However, thanks to a partnership between UNCG’s School of Nursing, Western Carolina University, and Mission Health, a group of nurses in the Asheville area, who might not otherwise have had such an opportunity, are now working to complete a Ph.D. in nursing, via remote education.

Beginning in the fall 2017 semester, a group of five students who attend the program at the Biltmore Park location in Asheville are participating in UNCG classes, via videoconferencing sessions. Once or twice per semester, each faculty member switches locations to teach from the Biltmore Park location, and the UNCG campus-based students then participate via videoconference.

Remote class in session.

Offering this program provides an opportunity for nurses in the western part of the state to attend classes without driving long distances. Many of the nurses in the program are full-time faculty members at other campuses or hold busy jobs in health care systems. Driving long distances AND taking classes for a full day might preclude their being able to participate in doctoral education.

Gail Elliott, a student in the program, feels that, despite its “remote” location and class size, the program offers an experience that creates a positive connection between students and faculty.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to attend at a distance.  Despite any small growing pains, UNCG is working hard to help us feel connected.  And even though we are at the ‘remote’ campus, I think it creates a unique bond for the AVL (Asheville) students, and I appreciate the small learning environment.  Overall the connection to the faculty has felt very natural, they remember our names, call on us, and our discussions have been as lively as they would have been in person.”  

Karen Cochran says that she did not want to relocate her family to participate in an on-campus program, nor did she want the expense of an out of state, online program. She feels the UNCG program is a good fit for her.

It is very meaningful.  This allows me to reach a personal goal that will set me up to advance professionally. I am having a wonderful experience.  I feel supported and can see that UNCG School of Nursing is invested in our success.  I am very thankful for this opportunity.”

Fall 2017 UNCG Ph.D. Cohort

To learn more about UNCG’s Ph.D. in nursing program, visit their website here.

For an overview of UNCG’s School of Nursing, visit their home page here.

(Special thanks to Dean Robin Remsburg, Dr. Robin Bartlett, Gail Elliott, Karen Cochran, and MaryK McGinley for their contributions to this story.)