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CCU Atheneum: Pat Bohannan is the director of CCU's new nursing program.
Pat Bohannan is the director of CCU's new nursing program.

Forget playing bridge: Bohannan forges a nursing program

by Mona Prufer
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When Pat Bohannan retired from nursing in 2006, she moved to the house in Garden City Beach she had purchased two years earlier as a retirement home. “All I wanted to do was walk on the beach, read books and learn to play bridge.”

She walked on the beach three times a day, joined a bridge club and learned to play; she read books and joined a book club. But retirement didn't suit this Texas bundle of energy. “I felt unproductive,” says Bohannan. “There's just so much reading you can do, and I'm lousy at bridge!”

So she went back to work full time as the director of Coastal Carolina University's new nursing program.  It starts in January, a collaborative program with Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) through which area registered nurses who are licensed can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Cardboard boxes of neatly stacked files line Bohannan's office in the Smith Science Center. It is a shoebox-sized office that used to be a closet, not unlike many others around campus as new faculty are squeezed into found spaces. There are student applications to process, details to iron out and faculty to hire.

Bohannan, who is also teaching a course in diseases and disorders in the health promotion program, has an impressive healthcare background. She was dean of the Mary Black School of Nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate from 1996 to 2001 until she decided to cut back to part time to teach medical surgical nursing to first and second semester students.

After retirement in 2006, she became an adjunct and taught introduction to professional nursing and leadership/management via the Internet and Web CT. For the last two years, she's been a part-time instructor and tutor in HGTC's nursing program.

Now she's thrilled to be back in the saddle again, so to speak, setting up and managing the fledgling program that will work closely with HGTC's two-year associate degree for nurses.  “We are growing our students over in HGTC's program,” she says. Applicants must have a South Carolina nursing license before being admitted to CCU's program.

“I'm so happy to be here,” says the mother of four and grandmother of seven who thought she wouldn't get the job because of her gray hair. “I am old!”

But if energy and enthusiasm count for anything, she is the woman with the credentials to get the job done.

“Dr. Bohannan has served as a nursing educator at a wide range of institutions across the Southeast,” says Michael Roberts, dean of the College of Science. “These positions have included prominent roles in program and curricular development, as well as grant writing and faculty recruitment. CCU is very pleased to have an individual of her caliber involved in our RN-to-BSN degree-completion program.”

Bohannan says she can't remember consciously making the decision to become a nurse, but the thought was always there, possibly because her mother had a nursing career. “Maybe I was born that way,” she says, as she remembers playing nurse as a little girl and reading a book series about a nurse.

In between having a big family full of boys, nursing has been a good career choice for her that neatly merged into a life in academe.

Before leaving her home state of Texas, Bohannan was director of nursing at the Arlington Cancer Center in Arlington, as well as director of the master's program in oncology nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She went on to serve as dean of the School of Nursing at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga.

She also earned her degrees in Texas – a bachelor's at Baylor and a master's and Ph.D. at Texas Women's University in Denton.

This isn't the first time CCU has been invested in nursing. There was an earlier program in the 1980s and early 1990s when Coastal, then a part of the University of South Carolina system, had a nursing program before it was moved to HGTC in the fall of 1992.

“It's time for Coastal to get back into the nursing business!” says Bohannan, who is ready to lead the charge.





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