Nursing program provides practical training, careers

By Kimberly Absher
BCC’s Associates Degree in Nursing prepares students for entry level clinical practice as registered nurses and it prepares students to take the registered nurse examinaton, according to the nursing associates degree program home page. BCC’s Nursing Program stands out from others in the area because the training is hands-on and applicable to the job, said Lisa Tedeschi, a member of the nursing program faculty. “Our program provides the student with many clinical experiences. Our students have close to 500 hours of clinical in the two years that they are in our program.” The high level of on-the job training received by BCC’s nursing school graduates gives them the competitive edge in terms of employment, and it prepares them well for their careers, said Tedeschi. Because of its commitment to excellence, the nursing program has received several governmental grants. The program was awarded $486,662 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2004. The nursing program received another grant this past year from the U.S. Department of Labor Services for $1.8 million. BCC earned these grants through showing its program was a quality one, with rigorous training. “The BCC Associate Degree Nursing Program was established, I believe, in 1968. Since then, it has been highly regarded in the area,” said Tedeschi. “We have a very good reputation with the hospitals it serves, and many of the hospitals are eager to have our graduates due to the quality of students we produce. We have for many years ranked high in the state for first-time pass rates of the Registered Nurse National Counsel Licensure Exam (NCLEX).” The cost of tuition for the nursing program is $6,045 for in-state residents, and costs $18,579 for non-state residents. Required books total about $955, and there are additional costs for recommended books, lab fees, scrubs, shoes, and other supplies. Because the nursing industry is experiencing a shortage of nurses, the cost of the program is worthwhile for many. “We can offer them [nursing students] a chance to get into a profession that is high in demand and can make a good wage for a lot less cost and time than many four-year universities,” said Tedeschi. In hopes of getting more people interested in nursing to help the shortage, many hospitals are offering a high starting salary (around $80k a year), with a signing bonus, excellent benefits, and of course, job security. “We are in contract with around 15 hospitals, and they need nurses all the time. And these nurses have to be at the top of their game, all the time, and the hardest part of the job by far is getting nurses who can really do it,” said Roger Cecil, CEO of Phoenix Healthcare Staffing, (Auburn, Wash.) that provides nurses to emergency rooms and intensive care units. There are strict guidelines that must be adhered to in order to become a registered nurse, or even a certified nurse’s assistant. “There are so many steps to being in compliance with Washington laws for nursing. Before we can hire someone, we have to make sure they pass a police background check, drug test, and extensive nurse testing, among other things. They have to jump through a lot of hoops.” Successful nursing students possess several academic qualifications. In addition, a high general GPA, an aptitude for science courses, the ability to organize, study, and excellent critical thinking skills are important according to Berman. “[Students] are amazed how much they need to study and prepare for their classes. We tell students that we recommend that they do not work more than 20 hours a week due to the stringent class and clinical schedule. Nursing is an applied science and many students have to learn the critical thinking skills needed to apply all the knowledge that they have learned in both theory class and the clinical environment,” said Tedeschi. A nurse’s personal qualifications include compassion, multi-tasking, excelling in stressful situations, and a strong attention to detail, said Berman. It is a good idea to decide if you will like nursing by taking particular courses, said Tedeschi. “If you are interested in nursing, make sure you get a good foundation of math and science courses. Also our program requires that each student complete a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course prior to starting in the program. This allows them to get a glimpse of the profession they are about to enter which helps them determine if this is right for them and prepares them to have many of the basics completed before entering the program.”