Valencia College has named Dr. Paula Pritchard, former dean of nursing at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, as its new dean of nursing.
“Valencia has an excellent program; they have an excellent reputation,” Pritchard said. After touring the college and meeting the faculty, “I just got such a really good feeling about the people, the energy of the school, the students and the faculty. I thought this was going to be a really good fit for me.”
Pritchard, who lives in Altamonte Springs, started her nursing career after earning an associate in science degree from Mount San Jacinto College in San Jacinto, Calif. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from California State University at Fullerton. She continued her nursing education at the University of Phoenix, where she earned a master of science in nursing with concentrations in administration and adult health. She then earned her doctorate in nursing from the University of Florida.
At Valencia, she will return to her community-college roots. “I started with an associate’s degree in nursing and this gives me the opportunity to give back,” she said
Valencia’s nursing program was founded in 1970 with the first nursing class of 44 students admitted in September 1971. Today, Valencia’s nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), which certifies that the program meets both the highest state and national standards. Many universities, including the armed forces, require transfer students to have completed their associate’s degree at an NLNAC-accredited institution. Students who complete the program are prepared to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) and can go on to work in a nursing career or pursue higher degrees.
In 2011, Valencia nursing students continued to score high marks on the National Council Licensure Examination, the exam required to become a registered nurse. In 2010, Valencia graduates had a higher pass rate than both the state and national average – with 94 percent of students passing the registered nursing exam on the first try, according to the Florida Board of Nursing.
One of Pritchard’s goals will be to continue the nursing school’s history of excellence. Because national health leaders are urging more nurses to pursue four-year degrees, Pritchard wants to focus more attention on Valencia’s A.S. to B.S.N. program, which enables Valencia students who graduate with an associate in science degree in nursing to transfer to the University of Central Florida or another of the state’s four-year colleges to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree.
In addition, Pritchard wants to serve the students who are pursuing an associate in science degree in nursing, a program that prepares them for entry-level jobs in nursing. “I believe this is an excellent way for nurses to get into practice and I hope as they travel through the path of associate-degree education and nursing, we empower them to dream beyond the walls of Valencia,” Pritchard said.