06/26/07 — New grant will help college add more positions in nursing program

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New grant will help college add more positions in nursing program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 26, 2007 1:45 PM


News-Argus Staff Writer

A three-year grant worth $165,876 will help Wayne Community College expand its associate nursing degree program in the fall.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust funding will pay for additional instructors and equipment and allow for more students to be accepted into the program.

"We'll increase the number we admit to eight in the fall," said Rachel Hall, department head of nursing. "By year two, we'll accept approximately 16 (more) students."

The incoming class of students, 48 instead of its traditional 40, has already been accepted to the program, Ms. Hall said. With the looming nationwide nursing shortage, every effort helps.

"Over the past six years, we have only admitted about 49 percent of our qualified applicants and obviously increasing it by eight, we'll still have to turn away students," she said.

Experts say that the shortage has not yet peaked, Ms. Hall noted. But with the projected continuing need, it's important to stay ahead of the curve.

"I don't think our plan is that we're going to solve the shortage but it's an effort to increase the workforce," she said.

As important as recruitment efforts is retaining potential nurses, said Dr. Cindy Archie, division head of allied health and public services. The college offers an advisement process throughout the students' time at the college, not only with course selection and career choices, but working with them on study skills and testing strategies.

"Our main goal is not only are we going to be increasing our enrollment but we hope to retain (them) so that ultimately we'll increase the number of graduates," Ms. Hall said.

The college already has an impressive licensure and passing rate for students in the nursing program, Dr. Archie said.

"Our passage rate for the last three to five years has been at 93 percent, which is above the national and state average for all RN programs," she said.

Local support has also proved advantageous. Hospitals like Wayne Memorial have routinely provided such incentives as scholarships and clinical experience. Both are beneficial once graduates start the employment search.

The majority find work without leaving the county, Ms. Hall said. Wayne Memorial accounts for the largest number of hires, followed by Cherry Hospital and a variety of situations, such as long-term care facilities and physician's offices.

With the latest grant money, the college is currently in the process of hiring a full-time instructor and purchasing lab equipment for the additional students.

"We were lucky that we did get our request for equipment," Ms. Hall said. "We'll be able to provide mannequins and models for our assessment labs so that the ratio of students trying to work on one piece of equipment will stay approximately what it was before the increase."

The second and third years of the funding will cover the salaries of the full-time instructor and that of an additional part-time instructor, to be hired later.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was created in 1947, with three-fourths of the grants designated for use for health-related programs and services across the state and the remainder used for the poor and needy of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.