Scholarship to support rural nursing program

GREENVILLE, N.C. – UnitedHealthcare has donated $25,000 to the East Carolina University College of Nursing to fund scholarships for students enrolled in their final year of the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) program. UnitedHealthcare presented a check to College of Nursing Dean Sylvia Brown at an on-campus event today with RIBN program nursing students, Directors of Nursing from RIBN participating community colleges and North Carolina State Representative Greg Murphy.

“By collaborating with partners like ECU’s College of Nursing, we hope to help increase access to quality health care throughout North Carolina, particularly in rural communities where there is a dire need,” said UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina CEO Anita Bachmann. “This program provides quality training to prepare a much-needed nursing workforce to meet the needs of the residents of North Carolina.”

“The goal of the RIBN program is to help provide a pipeline of baccalaureate nurses to underserved and rural parts of the state by making it easier and more affordable for students from those communities to obtain their BSN,” said the Dean of ECU’s College of Nursing, Dr. Sylvia Brown.

The RIBN program is designed to improve the health outcomes of North Carolinians by enhancing the educational preparation and diversity of the nursing workforce. The program provides a four-year nursing option that concurrently enrolls students from one of seven local community colleges and the ECU College of Nursing. RIBN students earn both an associate degree from a community college and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from ECU through online coursework and clinical work.

Many of these students work part- or full-time while furthering their education with online classes that can flex around their work and life schedules. With many students already working in rural settings, the possibility they will continue to work in that area is great. Additionally, the RIBN program enhances the quality of care delivered to rural North Carolinians.

“Through our partnership with UnitedHealthcare, we will be able to support the educational attainment of these aspiring nurses by helping them overcome economic barriers they may face.”

The community colleges participating in the RIBN program include: Beaufort County Community College, Carteret Community College, College of the Albemarle, Craven Community College, Lenoir Community College, Pitt Community College and Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

Students in the RIBN program spend the first two years of their coursework at a community college campus while completing at least one online course per semester through ECU. Receiving their associate degree in nursing at the end of their third year, and after passing the state licensure exam, they progress to the program’s fourth year with online coursework at ECU in preparation for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

“As a practicing physician, I know firsthand how a shortage of health care workers can have a far-reaching impact on the availability and quality of care in our rural communities.” said State Representative Greg Murphy.

“The UnitedHealthcare RIBN Rural Health Scholarship will be an excellent way to help those who wish to serve in often underserved areas of our state further their education and ensure future career success.”

Students may apply for the scholarships online at and recipients will be announced in mid-April. UnitedHealthcare RIBN Scholarships will cover the 2018-2019 school year. This scholarship program financially assists senior year students in the RIBN program; the last year of the program is the most expensive for these students.  Preference will be given to students who excel academically, demonstrate financial need and wish to begin/continue to work in rural underserved areas.

For more information on the RIBN program, please visit:

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