50 Years of Nursing Education

CPCC celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Nursing Program
Program was the first of its kind in the state community college system

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) leaders, together with faculty and staff, students and alumni will gathered at the college’s Health Careers Building on June 11, 2015 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of CPCC’s Nursing Program.

“The longevity of our Nursing Program speaks to the caliber of the curriculum, faculty and staff,” said Jeanette Cheshire, DNP, RN and director of the Associate Degree in Nursing Program at CPCC. “CPCC’s Nursing Program has withstood the test of time and that’s because it has remained committed to the college’s mission – to provide a high quality, affordable and accessible education to all.”

CPCC’s Nursing Program is the oldest nursing program in the N.C. Community College System. The college admitted its first class of 80 students in September 1965 after the North Carolina Board of Nursing granted the college provisional accreditation for an associate degree program in nursing. As a result of the board’s decision, CPCC became the first community college in the state to house an Associate Degree in Nursing Program.

At the time, students attended the majority of their curriculum classes in the college’s Central High Building – a former high school that did not boast the configuration, nor the technology necessary to successfully house the electronic equipment needed for nursing instruction.

Recognizing the problem, college leadership sought, and won, the support of Mecklenburg County and the N.C. Board of Nursing, resulting in the construction of a new career education facility – the Belk Building – in September 1972. With more than 10,000 square-feet of space, the Belk Building not only featured a new audio-tutorial lab, but also helped drive enrollment to 200 nursing students.

Today, CPCC’s Nursing Program continues to flourish. This year’s commencement ceremony included more than 100 nursing graduates, a significant increase from the 29 students who first graduated from the program in 1967.

The bump in enrollment may be attributed to many factors, such as the program’s excellent reputation in the community; its newly remodeled Health Careers building that opened in 2009 featuring a variety of high tech, state-of-the-art technology; and its ability to not only maintain approval status by the N.C. Board of Nursing, but also earn accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), a mark of distinction certifying the program adheres to the highest national standards of education.

“I am extremely proud of everything the program has accomplished in its 50-year history and am excited about what the next 50 years will bring,” said Dr. Ruth Hedgpeth, Dean of Health, Human Services, Early Childhood Education, and Cosmetology at CPCC. “The healthcare industry continues to have a critical shortage of well-educated nurses and CPCC is proud to serve as Mecklenburg County’s workforce development resource, educating competent and confident nurses who are continually sought after by today’s clinical employers.”

During the reception, hosted by the CPCC Foundation, attendees mingled, enjoyed a variety of hors d’oeuvres and took a tour of the program’s simulation labs and classrooms.