Thursday, December 23, 2010
Northwest nursing in new facility
By SUE WATSON
Lacey Gentry, speaking to the Holly Springs Rotary Club, provided an overview of the nursing program at Northwest Community College. It includes a new facility which is equipped with the latest technology for training new nurses.
The nursing program opened at NWCC in 1975 and graduated 30 students with a faculty of four, including nurse Mary E. Piper. Today 100 students a year graduate with an associate degree, Gentry said. The program was accredited first in 1978 by the National League of Nursing and has been continuously accredited.
With 230 students enrolled and a faculty of 19, the new facility has the capacity to matriculate 450 students. Northwest offers a two-year associate degree RN program.
All graduates from the nursing program find jobs, most remaining in North Mississippi to practice, Gentry said.
The new state-of-the-art nursing building is equipped with simulators that can be programmed to demonstrate a nursing situation including a crisis. The simulators are so effective, that up to 30 percent of the clinical training for nurses takes place on the plastic robotic simulators.
The facility has hospital patient rooms, a nurses station, a medical dispensary, and a debriefing room – all to simulate a real-life nursing environment.
Videos are made while a student trains on the simulator and playback helps students to see how they performed. The simulation equipment was provided by a $495,000 grant obtained with the help of Sen. Thad Cochran.
Marshall County is not sending as many students as it could to the program due to low ACT scores and GPA (Grade Point Average). The majority of enrollment is drawn from DeSoto County, Gentry said.
Minimum entry requirements are an ACT score of 19 and a GPA of 2.0, but the average scores of those enrolled in nursing are inching upward and now stands at 23 on the ACT and about a 3.5 GPA. Average ACT scores have ranged from 21 to 25 and average GPA has ranged from 3.2 -3.5 over the past three years.
To do well in the program, students should have a higher than the minimum ACT score and GPA and have done well in Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Gentry said. Those who make less than a score of 19 on the math portion of the ACT have found not to be as successful in the nursing program.
Gentry said Marshall County schools can help students qualify for the nursing program by training students to take the ACT and making sure students are prepared to do well in college algebra and anatomy and physiology. If a student can take A&P in high school it will benefit them once they enter the college. College A&P is a requirement for entry into the nursing program. Nurses have to be able to handle math problems, she said.
Northwest also offers Certified Nursing Assistant and Licensed Practical Nurse programs.
Gentry has been a nurse for 16 years and has an RN and an MSN degree. She has served on the nursing faculty at NWCC for 10 years. She serves on the medical surgical levels, Freshman II, faculty.
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