College of Coastal Georgia News
College of Coastal Georgia Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Candice Overholser is the recipient of the 2020 Southern Nursing Research Society/National League for Nursing Doctoral Research Grant Award for her research proposal "Seamless Academic Progression for Associate Degree Nursing Students."
The Southern Nursing Research Society and National League for Nursing share a mutual interest in promoting nursing education research conducted by doctoral nursing students. They offer a joint award of $5,000 to support the completion of a nursing student's dissertation. Overholser was a doctoral student at the University of West Georgia. She completed her research and program this summer and earned her Doctor of Education in Nursing degree.
Overholser's proposal focused on how Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program leaders are moving toward the development of seamless academic progression models for students transitioning from earning an ADN to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. There are three pathways nursing students can choose to be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and become a registered nurse—a nursing diploma degree, ADN, or BSN. ADN and BSN are the most predominant choices. Few ADN graduates return to school to earn a BSN, making the proportion of BSN nursing in the workforce about 57 percent to 58 percent. Research has shown that a higher percentage of working BSN nurses decreases mortality rates considerably in healthcare, Overholser said. To increase to the number of BSN nurses, programs are instituting seamless academic pathways to encourage and help ADN graduates complete a BSN degree. Some students are met with barriers in returning to school such as associated costs, duplication of coursework, and personal and professional barriers. Overholser found that there was very little scholarly literature about how nursing programs are meeting this important initiative. Her research helps to fill this gap and highlights the importance of education in improving healthcare.
"I am honored to receive a grant from such a prestigious organization," Overholser said. "I was quite shocked when I got the news. I have worked so hard and overcome so many obstacles to get to this point. It was really more of an honor to be recognized than anything else."
Overholser can personally attest to the importance of having a seamless transition program from an associate's to a bachelor's degree. She graduated with an Associate Science in Nursing degree from the College of Coastal Georgia in 2000 and returned in 2012 to pursue her BSN, which she earned in 2014. In fall 2014 and fall 2015, she worked part-time at the College as a clinical instructor assistant in the nursing department. Overholser became a lab coordinator and simulation specialist in spring 2016, an Assistant Professor of Nursing in summer 2017, and this summer accepted the position of RN-BSN Program Coordinator.