Monday, November 17, 2008

For Germanna, Culpeper Regional Hospital partnership in preparing a new generation of nurses helps meet critical health care need

Germanna student Jillian Witkowski, right, works with, from left, Culpeper Regional Hospital Case Manager Deb Griffith and VP Janice Suter in this Star-Exponent photo.

The Culpeper Star-Exponent

Germanna Community College students are applying their emerging nursing skills hands-on at Culpeper Regional Hospital.

All of the students are part of the school’s two-year registered nurse program and will officially earn the title after passing a state exam after their two years of academic and clinical work.

In addition to lightening the load on the regular full-time staff, the new nurses will help to reverse a nationwide shortage of nurses.

“We’re very thankful to have students,” said Janice Suter, CRH’s vice president of nursing services.

Industry experts point to many factors that have contributed to the nursing shortage. One is an increase in the volume of health-care services delivered to an aging population of baby boomers. Add to that shift work, long working hours and pay that isn’t always equal to the responsibilities and stress of the job and analysts say that it’s difficult to recruit young people and keep experienced personnel in the industry.

But student Shanon Fleming said working toward being a registered nurse is the right path for her.

“I enjoy talking with the patients, I like the fast pace,” she said. And after working as a nursing assistant for more than a decade, Fleming said that she wanted to take the next step in her career and education.

For first-year students, who do clinical work four days each week, a typical day begins around 7 a.m. After arriving, students meet with instructors and find out which patients they’ll be responsible for that day. The students normally see a different patient each day, and their work varies depending on the needs of the patient.

The students work in the hospital’s medical-surgical unit, an intermediate area that is one step below intensive care. They assist with many aspects of patient care including monitoring and documenting vital signs, giving medications, changing IVs, helping patients get dressed and groom themselves and most often, providing a willing and sympathetic ear. Each student’s work is monitored by the school instructors and experienced nurses.

“A lot of people just want to talk,” said Jillian Witkowski, another first-year nursing student. “I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said. “I had no idea what to expect.” Although seeing someone different each day is difficult, she said it adds a unique challenge and appeal to the job.

Clinical work continues for two years, throughout the RN program. During their second year, students begin working six days each week and may care for several patients at once.

According to a 2005 report from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the state will need more than 22,000 new nurses by 2020.

To augment the ranks, the Virginia Community College System challenged its 23 schools to produce 80 percent more nursing graduates. About 70 nursing students graduated from the program in 2007, twice the size of the 2005 graduating class, according to school statement.

“We celebrate this accomplishment,” Germanna President David A. Sam said, “but we could not have done this without the support of Culpeper Regional Hospital and other health care providers who work with us in public-private partnerships. In return for their support, we’re excited to be able to send nursing graduates to the hospitals in our communities, where there is such a critical need.”


Anonymous said...

Enough is enough! There must be something else to this college besides NURSING. While it is a great progam, it is disproportionaely represented on the front page.

All we ever read about is nursing! How about music, journalism, science, history, english etc?

Anonymous said...

I'll second that!

Anonymous said...

I see that if you look at the story on the main page, it reads "0comments." Very interesting. Germanna CC dissuades free speech?

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