A special group of graduates are among the Anderson University students receiving their degrees this semester: health care professionals who earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Rachel Griggs is one of them. A native of Greenwood, she is part of AU’s first class of MSN graduates.
“I am excited about my future as a family nurse practitioner,” she said. “The accelerated program allowed me to pursue my dream of finishing a master degree while being a mom and wife, all while continuing to work as a nurse.”
AU’s first MSN cohort began in the fall of 2016. The 13 students who completed the program are participating in a hooding ceremony on Friday, Dec. 15, ahead of AU commencement scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Rainey Fine Arts Center. A total of 211 students are graduating with degrees from AU this semester.
The MSN program has concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psych Mental Health Practitioner (PMHNP). The program is geared toward students who are already serving as registered nurses (RNs), but who want to earn a master’s degree within a specialized field. Twelve students are graduating from the FNP concentration, while one student is finishing the PMHNP program – one of only two offered in South Carolina.
Carol Archuleta, dean of the Anderson University School of Nursing, was involved in the planning and fall 2016 launch of AU’s graduate nursing programs and is thrilled to see the first group of MSN students graduate.
“It is a very special time in the life of these students and for the communities they will serve as they begin their careers as advanced practice nurses,” she said.
“It’s a very rewarding time for the Anderson University College of Health Professions, knowing that this is the first graduating class of our master’s program,” said Elizabeth Snyder, chair of the graduate nursing program at AU. “We feel a lot of pride in what our graduates have accomplished.”
Snyder said AU’s MSN program is unique because it allows registered nurses to earn a master’s degree more quickly than they can at other universities. MSN cohorts take place over four semesters, with classes continuing through the summer. Students can finish in a little more than a calendar year, Snyder said.
“The sooner they finish, the sooner they can return to the workforce,” she said. “Our program is appealing to working professionals because it offers an accelerated format. They get the same hours and curriculum, but in a shorter timeframe.”
That was especially appealing to Griggs.
“The short duration made the program more affordable, with fewer semesters and less time that I was not working my full-time job,” she said. “The professors have been extremely supportive and have worked hard to meet the needs of the class. I believe that as I leave AU, the people that are now my professors will be my friends as well.” She plans to work in an office in the Greenwood area while giving back at a local free clinic.
The success of the first MSN class at AU is especially rewarding for Donald Peace, dean of the Anderson University College of Health Professions.
“I am so pleased with our first Master of Science in Nursing graduates,” Peace said. “What an exciting opportunity these nurses have taken to broaden their knowledge and skill as they prepare to serve our community. It’s a wonderful day for the School of Nursing, College of Health Professions and Anderson University as we continue to pave new health care opportunities.”
— Andrew Beckner is executive director of Public Relations at Anderson University.