The MUSC College of Nursing continues to hit high marks among online graduate programs. U.S. News and World Report, the de facto leader in the evaluation and rankings of degree-granting programs at regionally accredited institutions, has ranked the CON No. 2 in the category of online graduate nursing program in the United States for the second year in a row.
2017 marks the fourth year in a row that the program has earned the No. 1 or 2 spot. In 2016, the CON ranked No. 2; in 2015, it achieved the No. 1 spot; and in 2014, it ranked No. 2. More than 500 nursing schools were surveyed.
Dean of the college, Gail Stuart, Ph.D., was elated at the news and shared credit with those whom she said played a role in this extraordinary achievement. “This year’s ranking is a testament to the ongoing quality and sustained performance of our MUSC faculty, staff and students,” she said.
Joseph Stocking, a second semester Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student in the nursing executive leadership and innovations (NELI) track, has the highest praise for the college and the program.
“I am very proud of the MUSC College of Nursing. This most recent distinction comes as no surprise. The breadth of leadership at the College of Nursing is phenomenal. Despite the challenges associated with online learning, the passion and commitment demonstrated by the faculty is second to none and makes for an outstanding learning environment. Their commitment and support of students in the Nurse Executive DNP program, in which I’m enrolled, has been invaluable in helping me create a unique learning experience as I prepare myself for executive leadership.”
Having devoted 20 years of his life and career to the U. S. Navy, a great deal of it spent in the medical arena, when it came time to retire, Stocking had a strong interest in nursing. Having served as a combat medic, emergency medical technician and respiratory therapist, he was very comfortable in the medical world.
Toward the second half of his naval career, he moved into administrative roles, working closely with commanding officers – first as the assistant legal officer for the command and then in decedent affairs, often delivering the most dreaded and heartbreaking news to military families. Subsequently, he served in the position of operational forces medical liaison. Stocking specialized in emergency management and was part of the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) team.
During his time with the Navy, Stocking served all over the world and was even stationed on the USNS Comfort, the world’s largest hospital ship. He moved with the Navy to Charleston, South Carolina, from Connecticut in 2005, and upon retirement in 2014, he started the college’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. Once he completed it, he was accepted into the NELI track of the DNP program, which will take two years to complete.
While pursuing his nursing degrees, Stocking also brought his extensive CRBNE expertise to MUSC, where currently he works as part of the specialized medical team, a group that responds to emergency medical situations such as an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Upon graduation from the DNP program, he plans to become a nurse leader in the field of emergency management and continue this work.
Already a leader on MUSC campus, he served on the college’s Student Government Association, was named an MUSC Presidential Scholar and was the first recipient of the James B. Edwards Scholarship in recognition of his exceptional leadership qualities. This special award, named for the former governor of South Carolina and president of MUSC who was known for his insightful and warm leadership, was awarded to Stocking by Ann D. Edwards, wife of the late Dr. Edwards, who was a nurse and continues to be longtime advocate of the CON and its programs.
The MUSC College of Nursing offers advanced online graduate programs that result in either a DNP or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing Science degree. Along with the NELI track, the DNP offers four other tracks that candidates can pursue: adult-gerontology, pediatric, family and psychiatric mental health. The college also provides the on-campus Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with classroom, clinical and lab components, as well as an online RN to BSN program. In spring 2017, the college boasted an enrollment of 575 students.
“Thirteen years ago,” Stuart said, “we were one of the first nursing schools to make a commitment to innovative nursing education through online instruction. Today, the College of Nursing remains engaged in what has become a standard practice while continuing to focus on innovations that allow us to further distinguish MUSC from other institutions.”
Stuart said what is most impressive is that the college’s high rankings point not only to the college’s stellar leadership in innovative nursing education, but also to its ongoing commitment to quality and excellence in nursing education. “Imagine 2020 includes the goal ‘Fostering Innovative Education and Learning,’” she said, referring to MUSC’s strategy for the future, “and our College of Nursing is lighting the way.”
This year the college ranked behind only St. Xavier University in Chicago, a private institution with half the number of students of the CON, and bested both Duke University and Ohio State University, two impressive nursing programs that tied for the No. 3 spot, as well as Johns Hopkins University, which ranked No. 5. The University of South Carolina’s program tied for the No. 9 spot. Stuart feels that South Carolina earning two of the Top 10 rankings speaks volumes about the quality of nursing programs and the state’s commitment to excellence. “We are extremely proud of the prominence of our state in these rankings,” she said.