Published on May 7th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


The Citadel’s first class of nurses graduates

The Citadel’s first class of nursing students accept their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees during commencement ceremonies recently. The group of 20 evening undergraduates, and one cadet nursing student, share the honor of making history for the college as the inaugural nursing class.

Before graduating, they took part in the college’s first Nurse Pinning Ceremony. The ceremony is a long standing tradition in the nursing industry and represents a symbolic welcoming of new nurses into the profession.

Most members of the nursing Class of 2019 will remain in South Carolina, where, according to a projection by, one of the worst nursing shortages in America will take hold by 2030, topped only by New Jersey, Texas, and California.

Many in the class already have already accepted jobs. Others have secured positions for the next step in their educational careers. All 21 are committed to dedicating their futures to improving the health of others through caring and expertise, taking The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect with them.

Emily Banks, an evening undergraduate nursing student in The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2019, spent much of her time while away from class working as a student nurse technician at the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston through a partnership the college has with the center. She’s originally from Toms River, New Jersey, but lives in Charleston now.

Banks’s next step? She earned one of 10 coveted positions with the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center Post Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program.

“Emily Banks will be part of our highly competitive, 12-month long nurse residency program which consists of both didactic and clinical experiences designed to enhance the nurse’s transition from new graduate to competent, professional nurse,” said Joyce McElroy, MSN, RN, CEN, CNE, nurse manager, nursing academic education at the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center. “The Post Baccalaureate Nurse Residency program at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is the only nurse residency program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education in the state of South Carolina.”

Banks believes The Citadel’s partnership with the VA is key to her success. “It’s a perfect fit, and the college and the VA really support each other and the students.”

Abigail Koger is The Citadel’s very first cadet nursing graduate. She studied on an accelerated schedule, and is graduating ahead of the others in the first class of cadet nurses because she already had many of the basic credits required.

Koger, who is from Taylors, South Carolina, says she is driven by the opportunity to help her community and save lives.

“I think future cadets should consider nursing at The Citadel because the instructors are phenomenal. I have been pushed beyond my limits and have grown so much as a result,” Koger said. “I also think The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect instilled in every cadet combine perfectly with the field of nursing. For cadets, The Citadel is a very tough and challenging environment, but you grow so much as a person while being here, it really pays off.”

The South Carolina Board of Nursing approved The Citadel’s new program in the fall of 2016. First, the evening undergraduate nursing students (non-cadet) began taking classes in the summer of 2017 through the 2 + 2 program. The evening nursing students earn their required general education and prerequisite courses at a other institutions, most often a community college, then complete their nursing degree at The Citadel.

The first class of cadet nursing students began their four years of study in the fall of 2017. This traditional four-year baccalaureate program is available to students in the Corps of Cadets, as well as veteran students.

The mission of the Swain Department of Nursing is to educate and develop cadets and students to become principled leaders in the healthcare environment and profession of nursing by incorporating The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect into the learning experience. The program was made possible through the vision and generosity of the Swain family, after whom the department, and the Swain School of Science and Mathematics are named.

The curriculum follows guidelines developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in The Essentials for Baccalaureate Nursing Education and incorporates competencies from the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses initiative.

For more information, or to apply to study nursing at The Citadel, please email or call (843)953-1630.

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