About the School of Nursing

Dr. Sharon Metcalfe

Sharon Metcalfe, EdD, RN

Interim Director, School of Nursing

Welcome to the School of Nursing at Western Carolina University. We have grown significantly over the last several years and now offer many exciting education options at the undergraduate and graduate level.

A career in nursing is challenging, rewarding, and offers varied and exciting work environments. Now more than ever, nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and master's level are in great demand by health care employers. Our faculty are invested in nurturing students as they prepare for their roles as clinicians, teacher/educators, researchers, leaders, life-long learners, and responsible members of society.

Nursing was established at Western in 1969 under Dr. Mary K. Kneedler, a nationally recognized leader in health care who helped develop the Head Start program under President Lyndon Johnson. The first class of BSN students graduated in 1973. In 1982, the RN to BSN program was started.

The master’s program was initiated in 1999 with the Family Nurse Practitioner as the first track. We now also offer tracks in Nursing Administration, Nursing Anesthesia and Nursing Education at the graduate level.

In May of 2007 we also started an accelerated entry option for our pre-licensure program for individuals with baccalaureate degrees in other fields. In July of 2007 we were re-named as a School of Nursing. Fall of 2009 marked the School of Nursing's 40th anniversary.

In 2009 we added the Nurse Administration track to the master's in nursing program. Soon thereafter we introduced the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program. Joining forces with AB Tech Community College, the RIBN Program allows students to be dually enrolled in the community college and WCU to earn both their Associate Degree in Nursing and Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing within four years.

Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina joined forces in 2013 to award the terminal degree of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Referred to as the UNC Charlotte/Western Carolina University Dual DNP Program, the degree was developed as part of a bigger call to action by the Institute of Medicine to improve patient safety and outcomes by preparing nurses at the doctoral level and to meet the needs of the citizens of the western region of the state of North Carolina.

The School now has well over 2000 alumni who practice in clinical and leadership roles nationwide. Students who graduate from our programs perform well on their licensure or certification exams with pass rates well above national averages.

Students have the opportunity for clinical experiences throughout western North Carolina in many different types of health care institutions and agencies. A strong element of our programs is that we offer clinical opportunities in rural and urban areas, providing students with diverse practice experiences.

The School of Nursing is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing and doctor of nursing practice degree in nursing at Western Carolina University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The School of Nursing Bylaws can be found here: SON Bylaws

The Master’s in Nurse Anesthesia is also accredited by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Commission on Accreditation.

Please take this opportunity to explore information on this website about our undergraduate programs, graduate programs, and faculty.

Mission, Vision, and Philosophy

Mission Statement

Educate nurse leaders who are dedicated to caring and participating with individuals, families and communities to meet health needs.

Vision Statement

To be recognized for excellence in the transformation of health care through the scholarship of teaching, practice and research.


The Philosophy of the SON reflects the beliefs and values of the faculty and gives direction to the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral curricula. The baccalaureate graduate is a generalist who designs, provides, manages and coordinates nursing care in a variety of health care settings. The masters and doctoral curriculum build on the baccalaureate education and prepares graduates to practice in advanced roles.

Nursing is a discipline of knowledge and professional practice. Nursing occurs in relationship with self and others and requires the intentional presence of the nurse. The focus of nursing is to improve health outcomes with individuals, families and communities through caring.

The professionalization of caring in nursing includes:

Competence – knowledge, wisdom, skills, judgment, experience and motivation.

Compassion – a shared awareness and connectedness with the experiences of others.

Commitment – a deliberate choice to act in accordance with beliefs and obligations.

Conscience – a state of moral awareness.

Confidence – the internal belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way which fosters trusting relationships.

Comportment – demeanor, conduct, personal bearing, behavior. (Roach, 1997)

Excellence in nursing requires a blending of science and art. Nursing science is the body of nursing knowledge derived from the integration of theory, research, and practice. The art of nursing is the creative integration of empirical, personal, ethical, intuitive, esthetic ways of knowing in practice. The art of nursing is that which humanizes the delivery of nursing care.

Learning in nursing occurs through the integration of multiple ways of knowing. Self-awareness, reflection, and ethical and critical reasoning are important aspects of the learning that occurs in practice situations and through interprofessional collaboration. A supportive environment for learning is one which respects and values the contributions of each person and is a collaborative relationship between faculty, and students. The completion of a nursing degree is not an end-point but the beginning of a life-long commitment to learning.

Roach, S. (1997). Caring from the heart: The convergence of caring and spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Last edited 9/24/2012, 11/26/2012, 12/14/2012, and 01/10/2013

Program Outcomes

BSN Program Outcomes

Click here to view the BSN Program Outcomes.

MS(N) Program Outcomes

The master’s nursing graduate will:

I. Demonstrate competence in a defined role or area of advanced nursing practice.

II. Utilize the process of scientific inquiry to translate evidence into advanced nursing practice.

III. Demonstrate cultural sensitivity and an understanding of human diversity in delivery of health care across the lifespan.

IV. Build and lead collaborative interprofessional care teams to improve quality outcomes.

V. Lead in the integration of healthcare services across practice environments.

VI. Promote excellence in practice environments through a commitment to lifelong learning.

DNP Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the DNP program, graduates will:

I.  Analyze and integrate evidence from nursing science with evidence from other relevant scientific disciplines to form a scientific foundation for advanced practice in nursing.

II.  Apply clinical scholarship, scientific evidence, and analytical methods to improve health care outcomes.

III.  Develop and evaluate systems to enhance safety and quality of health care.

IV.  Advocate and participate in collaborative interdisciplinary efforts to improve health outcomes at the practice/organization, community, state and national levels.

V.  Engage in culturally competent and ethically sound advanced nursing practice.

VI.  Demonstrate leadership in the improvement of patient outcomes and transformation of health care delivery.

VII.  Directly manage complex health problems of clients or develop and implement organizational systems to facilitate access and navigation of the health care system.

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