Nancy Duffy can scratch starting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program off her bucket list. As the founding director of Campbell University’s nursing program, she’s doing just that.
Nancy Duffy is a self-described adrenaline-junkie who likes people, stress, challenges, and not knowing what comes next. That’s why nursing ended up being the right profession for her, she says, and what has now brought her to Campbell University, where she’s founding director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.
She joined Campbell on Oct. 1, 2013, with more than nearly 30 years of experience as a nurse and after spending nearly a decade serving as director of undergraduate programs and associate director of simulation at the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing.
“If you’re an adrenaline junkie, [nursing] is the best place in the world,” Duffy says. “The health care environment is complex and ever-changing. The nurse needs to be flexible, efficient, effective and on your toes all the time. Teaching was an opportunity for me to role model what it means to be a professional nurse. It’s the best of both worlds.”
During her first four months at Campbell, she has studied other BSN programs, developed curriculum, met with potential health care partners to provide clinical education experiences for students, and prepared reports and documents for the N.C. Board of Nursing and future accrediting agencies. On Jan. 27, the N.C. Board of Nursing granted Campbell Initial Approval Status, allowing Duffy to begin hiring faculty for the program and admit students who’ll begin working toward their BSN degrees this fall. Duffy expects the program to enroll 50 students.
She talked with Campbell.edu about why Campbell is the right place for a BSN program, what the program will look like, and how she ended up in nursing. The following is an edited transcript.
There are already 20 Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in North Carolina. Why does the state need another one, and why is Campbell the right place for it?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics has estimated that the RN workforce needs to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020. The Institute of Medicine also has the desire for 80 percent of the nursing workforce to be BSN educated by 2020. So there is the demand. Plus, when you search for nursing positions in the Buies Creek area, there are over 1,000 positions open right now. Our student body pulls largely from four or five counties -- and those are the very counties that have job openings. So to be able to go to Campbell to get your education and then go back home and make a difference -- I think that’s pretty powerful. We have the ability to make a difference right here in our backyard.
How will Campbell's nursing program be different from the others in the state?
Campbell is about the rural and underserved, and we have focused our clinical experience in counties that are rural and in areas with underserved populations. Also, we’re going to focus on interprofessional education, which is critical for health care today. Here at Campbell you have programs in physical therapy, physician assistant, public health, osteopathic medicine, and pharmacy all working together. Our students will be training alongside other health professional students.
What will the curriculum look like?
Any BSN program has to develop their curriculum based on essentials of a BSN education established by the accrediting agencies. We’re talking about a liberal arts foundation, health and wellness, advocacy, informatics, health policy, leadership, and evidence-based practice, just as a starter. There are unique sets of competencies that the BSNs need to demonstrate.
We have a proposed enrollment of 50 students. When they come in as freshmen, they will be pre-nursing. The only course that makes them nursing is a pre-nursing seminar that first semester. The first two years will be general core courses with an emphasis on biological science classes. Students will actually be admitted into upper-division nursing the second semester of sophomore year, and there with be a subsequent application. In the last semester, our students will have a focused clinical experience, where they will work one-on-one with a nurse somewhere in the surrounding area. That student will follow the nurse’s schedule for 120 hours. This gives them a real life picture of what that nurse does.
What are you looking for in students?
Students who are motivated, but I will tell you that is not enough. You have to demonstrate academic success because in the real world, the nurse needs to know why they are pushing or administering this drug, how to calculate that drug rate, what it means when someone’s potassium level is at 6.0, why they are doing what they are doing, or why the patient is going to the operating room, etc. You have to be able to have science as the foundation to make decisions about what kind of care you provide. Demonstrating academic success is important, but we’ll look at individuals, too. What’s unique about them? What do they bring? Why are they here? What would make us take a chance on someone who barely meets the preferred GPA? The interview allows a different look. To get someone to tell you why nursing is important to them can be eye-opening.
How did you end up in nursing?
I almost feel guilty or embarrassed because I was not one of those people who wanted to be a nurse all their lives, who had a mother who was a nurse, or who had a moving experience in health care. In reality, I was going to college and had to declare a major. Back then, women pretty much looked at social work, teaching, and nursing. I had candy-striper experience and nursing-home work under my belt. When I had to mark my major on paperwork, I put nursing down. It’s the best non-decision I ever made in my life.
What makes nursing the right field for you?
I like to have fun, I like to be around people, and I’m an adrenaline junkie. And if you’re an adrenaline junkie, it’s the best place in the world. I worked as a nurse in the ER for more than 20 years, so I love not knowing what comes next. I enjoy “connecting” with clients, students, families, and nursing administrators. I see nursing as an opportunity.
How did you move from being a practicing nurse to teaching and administration?
In the 1990s, the hospital where I worked asked me to apply for a nursing instructor position. I thought, I’ll give it a try. I loved it. It gave me the opportunity to be in the classroom, but it also kept me in the hospital, because I had to float to most of the units with students. It was fun, and it was an opportunity for me to role model what it means to be a professional nurse. When my husband was transferred from Charlotte to Charleston, I sent a letter to the Medical University of South Carolina letting them know I was interested in teaching positions. I went down there and interviewed for what I thought was a faculty position. They offered me a faculty position and director of undergraduate programs. I thought I knew what a challenge was, and then I really found out what a challenge was.
What made it a challenge?
I worked there for nine years, and learned buckets -- conflict management, student success, program outcomes, curriculum development,and that problems don’t go away but they can be managed. It actually made me realize that I would want to do this from scratch if I had the opportunity. To start a nursing program became an item on my bucket list.
Why was Campbell the right place for you to do that?
The first notion was the standard of excellence apparent in the programs at Campbell. Also, during the interview, which was a day-long event, there was a sense of collegiality and support. They listened to what I had to say and to my questions. The questions the panel asked told me that they had given this much thought and consideration. The intimate nature of Campbell was also appealing. It was going to allow me to make connections with more of a critical mass.
What did you learn from your time as a nurse in an ER setting that has shaped you as an educator and director of a new program?
How to expect the unexpected and to think quickly. The ER is where I learned you’ve got to speak up. My parents will tell you all I did was jabber, but I think the ER is where I realized the significance of being willing to use your brain, mouth, and spinal cord to speak up. You have to do that in the nursing profession. You have to do that as an educator and administrator, as well.
What else do students who are considering a career in nursing need to know?
Nursing is not for the weak of heart or for prima donnas. It’s a tough job, and you have to be willing to push stretchers, talk down a client who is psychotic, advocate for the homeless, and do the grunt work. It’s physically, intellectually, and emotionally demanding; but the rewards are tremendous. When you make a difference to somebody -- when you’ve detected that patient was getting sicker and nobody else thought they were, and you intervened and someone listened and changed the course for that patient -- that’s powerful. It’s a very powerful profession.
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Interview conducted by and edited by Cherry Crayton, Digital Content Coordinator
Photos by Bennett Scarborough