In July, 2005 the University of North Florida announced that the College of Health’s School of Nursing had been selected as its first flagship program.A total of $1.75 million dollars has been set aside for the nursing program and other flagship programs, to be selected at a future date. This recognition of excellence will allow the School of Nursing to expand its innovative baccalaureate program. “The School of Nursing is so strong here at UNF, it is clearly an area where we can gain national attention,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. He made the official announcement to a group of nursing students and faculty. Accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, UNF’s School of Nursing has continually ranked among the top five nursing programs in the state. Approximately 110 pre-licensure nursing students graduate each year, and 90 percent of those students are placed in local jobs, while other graduates are placed in out-of-state jobs.Pam Chally, dean for the Brooks College of Health, is proud that the University named nursing as the first flagship program. “It’s a great honor for the College of Health and the School of Nursing,” she said. “I believe we were chosen because of the tremendous team work demonstrated by the faculty, led by Dr. Li Loriz.”The School of Nursing is committed to relevance and collaboration with a focus on meeting community-defined needs. One response to community needs was the increase in pre-licensure student enrollment by 66 percent during the past three years to help meet the current nursing shortage, which was made possible through the generous gift from eight local hospitals. UNF and its nursing students enjoy a partnership with all Jacksonville hospitals.The feature setting UNF’s nursing program apart from other programs is its distinctive curriculum. “The School of Nursing’s unique community-based, population-focused curriculum could very well be a model for nursing programs across the country,” said Chally. In 2002, the nursing program refined its curriculum to correspond to changes in health care delivery trends. Understanding community environments, as well as how individuals and families with health challenges reintegrate into their home communities, is important for today’s health care providers.UNF’s nursing program includes many distinguishing factors, including student-directed community partnerships. Students participate in clinic operations for Volunteers in Medicine, Jacksonville to provide primary care to Jacksonville’s growing number of uninsured. Nursing students have also partnered with the health departments of Baker, Clay and Nassau counties through the Northeast Florida Area Health Education Center to develop and implement a program, Fun 2B Fit, which combats childhood obesity. Additionally, partnerships have been developed with the Pine Forest neighborhood, where students work with community leaders to address some of the health needs of local residents and the City Rescue Mission, where health care needs of its residents are met through direct nursing care and health education. Each UNF nursing student is “home-based” within an underserved or vulnerable group in the community. As a result, learning is emphasized equally with service, enabling students to understand resources and barriers patients face once discharged from the hospital. Students also practice clinical skills, while meeting health needs defined by the home-base community.
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