Archives Month: Central Piedmont Community College Nursing Program

Contributed by Erin Allsop, Archivist at Central Piedmont Community College

Central Piedmont's nursing program is the oldest nursing program in the N.C. Community College System and has graduated more than 3,000 students since its inception. When the Associate Degree program began as the registered nursing program in 1965, the campus of Central Piedmont, located in Charlotte, consisted of only a few buildings. Most classes were held in the Central High building, carrying over similar procedures from the Central Industrial Education Center (which would later become Central Piedmont).

The image above shows the location for the courses offered by the Central Industrial Education Center, one of Central Piedmont's educational predecessors. Practical Nursing classes, which would become Registered Nursing in 1965, were located on the third floor.
Students in the Practical Nursing Program of Central Piedmont Community College, 1963.

Practical Nursing became the Registered Nursing program in 1965, two years after the all-White Central Industrial Education Center merged with the all-Black Mecklenburg College to create Central Piedmont Community College. The program was created during the Civil Rights era and was one of the first desegregated nursing programs in Charlotte. This program had a few name changes over the years; it was first known as the Registered Nursing program from 1965-1967; followed by the Associates Degree - Nursing (1968-1984); Nursing - Associates Degree (1984-1999); and lastly the Christa A. Overcash Associate Degree in Nursing (1999-present day).

In order to accommodate the exponential growth of the nursing program, the Belk Building was opened in 1982 to house most of the health programs offered by the college at that time. Today, the Belk and Health Careers buildings still house some of the nursing program courses. Most recently, the newly constructed Health Sciences building on our Central Campus provides lab and classroom settings for students in our health sciences programs and includes state of the art equipment, labs, and testing facilities.

During its more than 50 years at the college, our nursing program has evolved and grown to meet the needs of today’s healthcare industry leaders and college student population. As a way to honor the many achievements of this historic program, the Central Piedmont Archives works to preserve the legacy of the nursing program for future generations. More information on the Central Piedmont Archives can be found here: https://www.cpcc.edu/about-central-piedmont/college-archives.

Below are some images of nursing students throughout the years.

nursing students photo
Nursing students participating in an on-campus, nursing skills practice lab during the 1970s. You will notice several skills in practice – taking blood pressures, moving patients safely using good body mechanics, learning different medical/surgical instruments, administering oxygen, and wrapping an extremity. AR.0036 - Programs, Central Piedmont Archives.
1979 nursing class photo
Associate Degree Nursing Program, Class of 1979. Dr. Ruth Hedgpeth, former dean of the Health Sciences program is in this photograph, fourth row; second from left. AR.0036 - Students, Central Piedmont Archives.
Christa Overcash photo
Christa A. Overcash photographed during the dedication ceremony for the Christa A. Overcash Nursing Program, 1999. Her generous donation provided the resources, equipment, and tools necessary for a quality nursing education. AR.0036 - Dedications, Central Piedmont Archives.
nursing lab photo
Associate Degree Nursing Students, 2018. Credit: Darnell Vennie.

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