Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-12-20

Chaitali Patel and 10 other members of this fall’s graduating class at Samford University are trail blazers.  The 11 comprise the first group of graduates in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing’s accelerated second degree program.

The cohort entered the 15-month program in August of 2009 already armed with baccalaureate degrees in a field other than nursing.

For Patel, it was a bachelor’s in business administration earned at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

After graduating college with a major in management information systems at age 18 and working for Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C., for three years, Patel decided to pursue her longtime dream of a career in healthcare.

“Nursing was what I really wanted to do,” said Patel, who first learned of Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing’s stellar reputation by word of mouth from friends in Charlotte. She then followed up with a more modern method of research.

“I googled Samford on the internet, and learned more about the nursing school,” said Patel, who especially liked what she read about the new accelerated second degree option.

In the program, students complete the same bachelor of science in nursing curriculum as traditional students, but on a faster schedule that includes summer sessions.  Although Patel found the pace to be challenging at times, she is grateful to patient faculty members and supportive classmates. 

“All of the faculty members, regardless if they taught us or not, supported us and always welcomed us to their offices if we ever felt we needed to talk to someone,” said Patel. “Even though we had a tough 15 months, the class stuck together.”

Each student worked very hard and supported classmates who sometimes felt discouraged, said Patel, now 25.

Patel, a native of Zambia in the southern region of Africa, now hopes to land a job in surgical intensive care in Charlotte. She follows several other family members in healthcare professions. Her husband, Milin, is a pharmacist; a sister is a nurse and a cousin is a physician.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.