Grant will allow RCCC to revise nursing program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been awarded a new grant to revise the practical nursing and nursing assistant curricula.
This grant will align the practical nursing program with the concept-based associate degree nursing (ADN) curriculum to better facilitate a seamless transition for practical nursing (PN) and nursing assistant (NAS) graduates as they progress with their career training.
“The new curriculum will encourage a focus on the big picture,” said Wendy Barnhardt, dean of health and education programs. “The revisions will place an emphasis on broad concepts and prevalent health problems identified from the Centers for Disease Control, Institute of Medicine, regional and state data.”
This project will improve the alignment of nursing curricula between public high schools and community colleges through the Career and College Promise program. The curriculum revisions will align the programs’ content up-to-date with current industry healthcare standards.
The grant, awarded by the North Carolina Community College System, will allow the college to lead a collaborative restructuring and revision process with other colleges across the state. At the urging of officials from community colleges across the state, Rowan-Cabarrus submitted an application for the Curriculum Improvement Project.
“We are honored to have been chosen to facilitate this nursing curriculum improvement project,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “We are pleased to have members of our faculty leading an initiative that will influence nursing education and the healthcare workforce statewide.”
“I am very proud of our doctoral and master’s prepared faculty. They are well-educated and ensure that our graduates are ready to be active and engaged healthcare providers,” said Spalding.
Rowan-Cabarrus offers multiple nursing program options, including associate degree in nursing (ADN), licensed practical nursing (PN) and the PN to ADN transition.
“We are very proud that 90 percent of Rowan-Cabarrus nursing graduates are employed by Novant Health Rowan, the W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center, Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast, long-term care facilities, hospice and other medical providers throughout the state” said Dr. Rod M. Townley, vice president of academic programs.
Last year, the college received accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission for its nursing programs. Rowan-Cabarrus received this nationally recognized accreditation for both its ADN and PN programs. The ADN program is one of only 14 programs among the 58 community colleges in North Carolina that is nationally accredited, while the PN program is only one of five across the entire state to receive this accreditation.
“Many procedures that once could be done only in hospitals are now being done outside of hospitals, creating demand in other settings, such as outpatient care centers,” said Cathy Norris, RN, MSN, director of the college’s nursing programs.
Research shows a growing shortage of nurse aides nationally and statewide. The N.C. Long-Term Occupational Projections for 2006-2016 ranked hospitals and nursing/residential care facilities as top industries with growing employment. For the state, they estimate 6,500 nurse aide vacancies annually. Personal care aides and home health aides are projected to be the fastest-growing occupations in the country between 2010 and 2020, increasing 71 and 69 percent, respectively.
The updating of the three courses, nurse aide I, nurse aide II and home care aide, brings the certificate program in line with today’s healthcare standards. The certificate program also provides an opportunity for high school students to enroll through the Career and College Promise program. The program provides a focused means for students to begin completion of college transfer credits or career training prior to their graduation from high school. Courses under Career and College Promise are offered to high school students with no charge for tuition.
Cathy Norris is the grant’s project director and Martha Freeze, RN, MSN, will be the curriculum development coordinator for the project. Faculty and staff members serving on the writing team for the grant application were Wendy Barnhardt, Angela Graham, Renee Hyde, Cathy Norris, Emily Ward and Dr. Hope Yost.
The college is registering students for the spring 2014 semester. Classes begin on Jan. 13. For more program information and course descriptions, please see the Rowan-Cabarrus website or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).