Freshmen enrollment for the pre-nursing program at GC has increased 76 percent over the last six years, but the number of nursing students accepted into the nursing program has remained constant.
“Unfortunately, we do have a tremendous number of pre-nursing students, and then we accept a cohort of 56 students twice a year,” said Debby MacMillan, GC director of nursing. “So we know that we’re only going to accept 112 students each year.
From 2013-2018, freshmen declaring a pre-nursing track rose from 127 students to 224.
“I think probably students are maybe more aware that they have a good potential of getting a job if they have a nursing degree,” McMillan said.
The nursing program, unlike most of majors, features a secondary admission process that receives more than 100 applicants each semester.
“Some of them will say either, ‘I’m going to leave GC and go to a less-competitive nursing program because I really, truly want to be a nurse,’ or ‘I was thinking about being a nurse, but I was also thinking about this, and so that’s probably what I’m going to lean to, and that major may or may not be offered at GC, so I may be transferring out,’” said Ramon Blakley, GC director of admissions.
Junior Chantel LaFleur, a nursing major, said the major is challenging.
“Some people don’t realize all that you have to do in nursing, and when they find out that you maybe have to clean patients and deal with bodily fluids and blood and all of that, people may not want to, or they’ll get sick, or they re- alize that they’ll pass out if they see a blood draw, so I think [freshman seminar] also [helps] a little bit, too,” LaFleur said.
In December 2017 and May 2018, GC’s graduating cohorts scored 100 percent on the NCLEX-RN, the licensing exam for nurses.
GC has been ranked the No. 1 nursing school in the state. This could be the reason GC has such a competitive nursing program. The Spring 2019 cohort’s average test scores were a 3.65 GPA, a 1,236 SAT score, a 24.56 ACT score and an 85.8 TEAS score, though MacMillan said the numbers vary by cohort. The nursing program also aims to keep its 8-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
GC prides itself on having a smaller ratio because it allows students to be more hands-on with their learning and closer to their professors. Adding more faculty, MacMillan said, would not necessarily lead to letting in more students.
“We also have to have clinical placement for these students, and we compete with a lot of other nursing schools for the same spots,” MacMillan said. “So, we have to make sure that we have enough places for our students to go, so just because we have more pre-nursing students doesn’t mean that we can automatically create more clinical sights.”
MacMillan pointed to a possible expansion of the new Navicent Health Baldwin simulation center.
“We are looking at that, and I would hope that if we can secure the funds for additional faculty and can secure the funds for additional software and simulation equipment, that we might can increase the number of students that we admit,” MacMillan said. “But it’s kind of like stopping a train or changing course of a sailboat. It’s not something that you just do.”