ECPI College of Technology plans to launch a nursing program on its North Charleston campus starting in October, with enrollment beginning this week.
The private college received approval last week from the S.C. Board of Nursing to offer the diploma program, which prepares students for work as licensed practical nurses.
Jim Rund, campus president, said the program is a response to the local demand for nurses. He said members of ECPI’s local advisory board have been encouraging the school for about three years to offer a nursing program to meet work force needs.
Rund said the program will take about 14 months to complete. ECPI plans to enroll about 20 students three times a year, with the first round beginning Oct. 4.
ECPI already offers the practical nursing program at several other campuses, including its Greenville, Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., campuses.
In the Charleston area, Trident Technical College also offers a practical nursing program as one of several nursing certificate, diploma and degree programs. Recently, Trident Tech has sought public funds to expand its nursing facilities based on high demand.
For now, ECPI plans to offer only the practical nursing diploma in North Charleston. Some of the school’s other campuses offer an associate degree in nursing, qualifying students to become licensed as registered nurses. And a bachelor’s degree in nursing is offered at its Virginia Beach and Newport News, Va., campuses.
When discussing the new ECPI program on Thursday, some members of the S.C. Board of Nursing took issue with the lack of career mobility that the program offers students. Several board members said students who have completed ECPI’s diploma program would have to “start at square one” if they wanted to complete an associate degree or other higher-level nursing program at another school.
Still, the board approved ECPI’s practical nursing program with stipulations that the school make four changes and clarifications in program materials before the board’s September meeting.
Rund said the practical nursing program isn’t designed, academically, to be a steppingstone to other nursing programs.
“This diploma program is primarily set up for someone who wants to be an LPN,” he said.
ECPI officials said at the Nursing Board meeting that tuition for the program is about $5,200 per semester.