Matthews, NC --Wingate University announced it's adding a nursing program to its list of offerings in the field of health sciences.
The announcement was made on Wednesday by Wingate president Dr. Jerry E. McGee at the University’s campus in Matthews.
Nursing is expected to be one of the top jobs in demand in the future as the Baby Boomer population ages.
McGee said, "Our hearts are really pure on this program. We're just responding to what the health care community has said they need."
The Union county institution will be awarding a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN). Classes will be taught at the main campus in Wingate.
The University's four year nursing program will be an upper division nursing program, meaning students will take prerequisite courses during their freshmen and sophomore years and can then apply for entrance into the nursing program for their junior year.
"It's going to be very competitive," said Dr. Dorothy Herron, director of the BSN nursing program. "We have right now an interest of about 60 sophomores who are in pre-nursing. They will be applying, but in the spring we only have 20 slots in each class."
The presidents of two area hospitals, Carolinas Medical Center-Union and Presbyterian Hospital-Matthews, joined University officials at the news conference. Students will be doing their clinical work at the hospitals.
Mike Lutes, president of CMC-Union said, "I applaud Wingate University for developing this nursing program in an effort not only to meet the student demands but those of our community."
Quipped Presbyterian Hospital-Matthews president Roland Bibeau: "When I look around this room many of us in the next few years are going to need intense nursing if you will. And I raise my hands as one of those individuals."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth in the health care sector will account for one out of every five new jobs created.
In the Charlotte region the health care sector employs more than 80,000 people - by far the largest of any industry. Financial services by comparison employs 55,000 people. The energy sector has 22,000 workers in the Charlotte region.
Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce said, "As we age the growth is going to come in health care more than in those other industries and you are responding to that."
University officials say Wingate's BSN program extends the college's commitment to training students for jobs in health care - complimenting the school of pharmacy that started in 2002 and the physician's assistant program that began five years ago.