When the University of West Georgia graduated its last class of nurses through an external program in Dalton in May 2011, an opportunity arose for Dalton State College to provide registered nurses in Northwest Georgia with an otherwise lacking opportunity to advance their education.
The Georgia Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved Dalton State's application to offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing two years ago, and now the program is on the verge of receiving national accreditation.
A site review for initial accreditation of Dalton State's bachelor's in nursing program from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing will be held Jan. 29 in the Sequoya building of the Dalton campus.
"It [accreditation] would make our program much more attractive for nursing students to come to," said Gina Kertulis-Tartar, the interim dean of the school of health professions at Dalton State.
If approved, Dalton State will be the 12th school in Georgia to have a bachelor's in nursing program recognized by ACEN, according to ACEN online records.
Dalton State's program is geared toward nurses who are already working and registered; it is completed partially online and partially in the classroom.
"That allows for accelerated learning and more individualized studies," said Linda Ridley, chairwoman of the bachelor's degree nursing department at Dalton State. "It gives flexibility to those already working, and it allows them to step into leadership positions within the nursing profession."
Nineteen nurses graduated in the first class of the program, and Ridley said that based on feedback from those graduates, promotions or raises at work have been common.
"The hospitals are giving preference to nurses with a BSN [bachelor's]," added Tartar, "so this is definitely making them more marketable if they go back for that."
If approved, Dalton State will likely become officially accredited by ACEN in July, Tartar said.
Contact staff writer David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731.