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Nursing: What to Expect

The College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina offers Nursing majors the expertise of a number of nationally known researchers and clinicians who can lend their expertise to your education.  You will develop cognitive and critical thinking skills and be provided a well-rounded education that can afford you opportunities not only in health care but in life. You will learn in a variety of settings including the traditional classroom setting to high-fidelity teaching and learning manikins in the state-of-the-art clinical simulation laboratory. Lectures may take place via two way distant learning, Adobe Breeze presentations, complimentary videos, and supplemental teaching and learning tools within the classroom. Nursing majors can also get hands-on experience through local hospitals offering summer internship programs.

The following courses fulfill some of the lower division course requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.):

  • Fundamental Chemistry II
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II (and Labs)
  • Microbiology (and Lab)
  • Facilitative Communication
  • Evolution of Nursing Science
  • Biophysical Pathology
  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Foundations of Community Health Nursing
  • Socio-Cultural Variations in Health and Illness

Some additional unique and interesting courses offered by the major include:

  • Healthcare Ethics
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Genetics and Genomics

Students who consider studying nursing at Carolina need to be aware that all USC undergraduates who seek a nursing degree are first admitted into the College of Nursing’s lower division. This does not guarantee later admission into the upper division. On average, there is an 8 to 1 student-faculty ratio in the clinical setting. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. The College of Nursing is in the process of offering a Study Abroad program in the Netherlands that is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2012. The overview of the course includes the exposure to transcultural theories and concepts used to study the health care system, cultural values, and structure of professional nursing in the Netherlands. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. Nursing majors can get involved by joining Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Student Nurses’ Association (SNA). As a member of SNA, you can participate in national conferences and engage in friendly competitions. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Nursing students tend to expand their professional and academic goals toward the acquisition of a graduate degree in Nursing. USC offers several outstanding advanced degrees including a certificate program, Master of Science in Nursing degree in five different specialties, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Dr. Patrick Hickey, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University, has scaled the seven highest peaks in the world and was the very first nurse to do so! He used Everest, the last of the climbs he made of the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, to raise money for the College of Nursing’s Summit Scholarship.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. The College of Nursing offers a handful of departmental scholarships to entering freshman who meet certain criteria and complete an application. These scholarships include the Edna A. Halkyard Nursing Scholarship, Dr. & Mrs. George W. Dick Scholarship, Gilbert & Iler Mae Johnson Nursing Scholarship, Kathryn H. Willard Bicentennial Nursing Scholarship, and Robert S. Dunn Nursing Endowment Fund. The College of Nursing offers more than 40 additional scholarships each year.
Living and Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Nursing majors can apply to live in Carolina’s Medical Communities. These two communities (first-year and upper-class communities) serve students who are interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. Students on the road to medical school get a head start as they interact with medical professionals and faculty and staff from the Office of Pre-Professional Advising, as well as have the opportunity to volunteer in a health care setting. 

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

The local hospital affiliates provide USC Nursing students with opportunities for summer internships and upon graduation support nurse externships. College of Nursing faculty members also avail themselves to students who are interested in exploring research opportunities.

Student Spotlight

Nursing major Hailey Little landed a great internship opportunity as a Nursing intern at the award-winning Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. During her internship, Hailey provided all aspects of patient care under the supervision of a Registered Nurse Preceptor. In addition to learning valuable time management, communication, critical thinking, and technical skills, Hailey learned that being a nurse isn’t always easy. “I learned that there are going to be hard times in nursing, but you have to work through the emotions and provide the best care possible for each and every patient regardless of their condition, beliefs, or other obstacles standing in your way,” she said. While at the Mayo Clinic, Hailey was able to tour the Mayo One helicopter headquarters and learn all about flight nursing from the Mayo One flight team. She also was able to see first-hand a kidney transplant.
Her courses at USC, specifically the DEU Clinical Program helped prepare Hailey for her internship. The DEU Clinical Program at USC allows students to have a unique, one-on-one clinical experience with a registered nurse. “I think getting that extra bit of attention really helped prepare me for my experience at Mayo,” she said. “Although the Nursing program at USC is difficult at times, it is totally worth it. I felt that I was very adequately prepared in comparison with other program participants.” Hailey encourages current Nursing students to pursue internship opportunities. “You can learn vast amounts from a book, but there is absolutely nothing like being there, in the moment!”

Career Opportunities

Nursing students generally pursue careers as staff nurses in geriatrics, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatric, medical-surgical nursing, home health care, school health care, public health agencies, businesses, and corporations.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

Since 1989, the College of Nursing and the Carolina Alumni Association, in collaboration with the Alpha Xi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, has recognized excellence in nursing graduates. The criteria include the demonstration of significant contributions to the field of nursing, improvement of society through volunteer and community efforts, and a high standard of integrity and character.

Sandra M. Walsh, the 2011 recipient, is a professor at the College of Health Sciences, Division of Nursing at Barry University in Florida. Dr. Walsh received her PhD from the University of South Carolina College of Nursing. She is featured in a new book titled, “Transforming the Healthcare Experience Through the Arts”. The book includes gripping human stories, research-based evidence, and practical advice for patients, family members and staff in the health care industry. The book’s authors, former hospital president and CEO, Blair L. Sadler and well-known arts consultant, Annette Ridenour, demonstrate how arts, projects and programs provide low-cost, high-impact ways to accomplish many of the highest-priority goals of any health care organization.

Dr. Walsh’s “Art at the Bedside” program, in conjunction with Dr. Sharlene Weiss, was begun in 2001 and continues at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. As a researcher and consultant to South Miami Hospital/Baptist Health systems, her extraordinary work allowed her to begin a similar program there in 2003. Dr. Walsh’s creative-arts approaches have been integrated into nursing school curricula and are utilized in healthcare facilities and educational programs in the United States, Canada, and Taiwan.

Recently, she and a host of several authors conducted a qualitative study to use “creative bonding intervention” art activities to enhance communication, self-transcendence, and well-being in persons with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The art activities were expected to bridge communication deficits in persons with this debilitating disease. Their study found an increased use of arts in Alzheimer’s care may reduce deficits and enhance healthcare delivery in persons with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Walsh’s research currently focuses on the use of art activities with persons with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

About the College of Nursing

The College of Nursing at the University South Carolina aims to develop competent, caring nurse leaders to advance the profession of nursing through the integration of teaching, research, and service to improve client health and wellbeing outcomes. The College of Nursing provides students with an entry level Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (B.S.N.) which gives students the opportunity to sit for state licensure and then practice as a Registered Nurse. The college also has a graduate school, which offers a number of masters level programs and can culminate with doctoral degrees. The College of Nursing is proud to house the Center for Nursing Leadership, home of the Amy V. Cockcroft Fellowship, and the Nursing Research Center. It is also a part of the statewide clinical simulation consortium via its state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Laboratory.

Points of Pride

  • Graduate students have consistently passed the national certification exams with a 100% pass rate.
  • Undergraduate students have recently passed the state licensure exam with a 90.3% first-time pass rate.
  • The College of Nursing takes great pride in the core values of the college and they consist of leadership, professionalism, respect, integrity, excellent, innovation, and caring.

 Additional Resources
College of Nursing Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin