PrintCULLOWHEE – North Carolina faces a nursing shortage, but the need is particularly pronounced in Western North Carolina.

So Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing came up with what Chancellor David Belcher describes in the accompanying video as an “ingenious” effort to educate nurses quickly – and affordably.

Under RIBN, which stands for Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses, students take three years of courses at a local community college and one per semester online at Western Carolina.  They then spend the fourth year entirely at Western.

RIBN started as a partnership with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech), Belcher says, then spread to several other community colleges in the region.

“The real gem here is that the price tag – for four years – is less than $20,000,” Belcher says.

“This is a very innovative program supporting what we’re doing and the great programs in our community colleges, but also trying to get our students into careers very quickly,” he says.  “Because, as everyone knows, we just are having a hard time producing the numbers of nurses that we need.”

RIBN has now been replicated at five other institutions in the University of North Carolina System:

  • Winston-Salem State University
  • NC A&T
  • East Carolina University
  • UNC Wilmington
  • UNC Pembroke

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