East Carolina University’s College of Nursing has partnered with Vidant Medical Center to launch its first alumni network in eastern North Carolina.
A member-driven support organization, the Pirate Nurse Network will offer educational opportunities, social and professional networking for ECU nursing graduates who work at Vidant in Greenville. Already 140 alumni have joined, and members say they are looking forward to continued growth and activities in the coming months.
“The College of Nursing is very proud of its alumni and wants to stay connected with them,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of nursing. “It is our desire that networks of Pirate nurses can be established throughout our state and beyond as a strategy to support fellow ECU nurses and a way for them to stay in close contact with our college.”
Many ECU graduates serve as clinical preceptors for students, and the network is one way to show appreciation for their service to the college, Brown said.
Mark Alexander, director of development and major gifts in the College of Nursing, is working closely with liaisons at Vidant to facilitate network events.
“Keeping our alumni connected will allow us to do a better job of spreading awareness on all of the great things that we are accomplishing in nursing education as well as raise awareness for areas of need and support,” Alexander said. “When working as a team, there is not a more dedicated group of people than nurses, especially Pirate Nurses.”
Two inaugural meetings were held at Vidant in September. New members toured ECU’s state-of-the-art nursing simulation labs on Oct. 17.
“Pirate nurses can now access an organized support system within our hospital as they share their Pirate pride and engage in educational, community service and recreational activities with nurse colleagues,” said Jessica Griffin, who serves as network liaison where she is a staff nurse in the special care nursery of the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant. Griffin also was president of the class of 2001 in the ECU College of Nursing.
Griffin worked with Dr. Linda Hofler, the medical center’s senior vice president-nurse executive, and Cathy Jackson Bunch (BSN ’94), staff development assistant in rehabilitation services and MSN student, to set up the network.
Initially, interested members were invited to complete a survey on how the network should function and activities that they would be willing to engage in with other alumni. Responses included a desire for monthly educational and professional networking events, opportunities for community service, mentorship and, in the future, scholarships. Nurses who are enrolled wear a “Pirate Nurse” badge reel on their uniforms, officials said.
Vidant Medical Center is one of four academic medical centers in the state and serves as the teaching hospital for ECU. The hospital is a tertiary referral center and provides acute, intermediate, rehabilitation and outpatient health services to more than 1.4 million people in 29 counties, according to its website.