DUBLIN — Bladen Community College Director of Allied Health Programs Sharron Thomas has good reasons to boast.
“Our nursing program retention statistics are the highest they have ever been,” remarked Thomas. “Most recently, our student performance on licensing exams is also higher than ever.”
Thomas has spearheaded the nursing program at BCC for more than two years, and credits the highly qualified and compassionate teaching faculty for providing a consistent and academically strong learning environment.
“Educating our students is only part of the process,” stated Thomas. “We provide the knowledge base, but our students must pass national certification exams before they are licensed professionals.”
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing sets that professional standard. Dedicated to developing psychometrically sound and legally defensible nurse licensure and certification examinations consistent with current practice, the council administers the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN Examinations, the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program and the Medication Aide Certification Examination.
Ninety-one percent of BCC nursing graduates successfully passed those national certification exams in 2016, a statistic that ranks the college well above the national average of 82 percent for associate degree nursing programs. Students agree that the rigor of the nursing program thoroughly prepares them for national examinations.
“Practical Nursing instructors at BCC are also preparing students for excellence,” remarked Thomas. “So far in 2016, 95 percent of our students have achieved licensure compared to 81.89 percent nationally. Retention rates for Practical Nursing are very high also. These graduates have the opportunity to climb the nursing career ladder with possible admission to ADN and LPN to RN programs on campus.”
While the program excels in academic success, students have also demonstrated community compassion in the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s demise of roads, farmland, businesses and homes in our region. Notable numbers of BCC students and their families have experienced the loss of everything.
According to LPN instructor Tina Forrester, PN students assisted the Bladen County United Way. “Our students rallied in response to the needs of the community, assisting with the receipt, sorting, and distribution of clothes.”
Nursing students engaged in hands-on rescue and assistance initiatives, actively participating in efforts organized by the American Red Cross and the NC Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief team.
BCC nursing instructor Michelle Norris recounted, “On October 20 and 21, senior nursing students traveled to an area church to help organize and distribute supplies, serve meals, and direct traffic flow.”
“The efforts at the church were very well organized,” recalled BCC student Candace Ivey. “The Baptist Men’s Association and the Red Cross efficiently managed the volunteer manpower. When we arrived, we were immediately assigned a responsibility. But there are still ongoing needs.”
Moved by the enormity of human suffering, BCC nursing student Brittany Hewett remarked, “Being from another community, I did not realize the magnitude of the needs in the region. We were boxing up food and thinking, ‘how are they going to cook without electricity?’”
“It was humbling to see how much some people have suffered and to be able to help them,” agreed student Morgan Butler.
Southeastern Regional Hospital in Lumberton suffered greatly in the storm. BCC nursing students were assigned to the seventh floor in the Bed Tower for their semester clinical experience. When nursing faculty member Amy Cummings learned that the floor was closed, she arranged for nursing students to complete their clinical training by administering influenza vaccines to employees.
Cummings stated, “Our student nurses provided 790 influenza vaccines on two different visits. This clinical proved extremely beneficial for our faculty who were searching for ways for students to complete their clinical hours.”
“These days were tremendous experiences in community advocacy and resource allocation,” summarized Norris. “It is the purpose of the ADN program to prepare students who are aware of, and adaptable to, the rapidly changing global society and dimensions of health care. Participation in community service efforts is an important part of the professional development of all nurses.”
For information about the nursing programs at Bladen Community College, contact Sharron Thomas at 910-879-5532 or visit www.bladencc.edu.
Cathy Kinlaw is the public information and marketing officer for Bladen Community College.