Quentin R. Johnson: We need to honor our nurses

Published 12:00 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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Quentin JohnsonFlorence Nightingale, who was born on May 12, 1820, earned respect and renown for the transformative contributions she made to the nursing profession. Her legacy led the American Nurses Association to select May as National Nurses Month. The observation highlights the contribution nurses make to the healthcare profession and to the well-being of their patients and communities. We are all indebted to nurses for the roles they play in helping us overcome illnesses, recover from injuries, and maintain wellbeing.

Nursing is America’s largest healthcare profession, and it continues to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the need for nurses to increase at a rate of about 6% per year. Contributing factors include emerging health challenges such as the recent pandemic, preventative care measures, the management of chronic conditions, and the medical needs of our aging population. In addition, as current nurses retire, the next generation of nurses must be ready to step up.

Melissa Arthur, Southside Virginia Community College’s (SVCC) recently appointed Dean of Nursing, Allied Health, and Sciences, understands the importance of teaching future nurses. “Our nursing programs support healthcare and wellness efforts across the entire Southside region by producing competent and compassionate nurses who can deliver quality patient care. These programs provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to become healthcare professionals.”

SVCC’s most popular program for nursing students is the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. The ADN program, which spans five semesters and takes two and a half years to complete, meets all the Virginia Board of Nursing requirements for pre-licensure nursing education, and graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensing Exam-Registered Nurse). A newly established weekend scheduling option makes this program available to students seeking classes and clinical experience in a Friday through Sunday timeframe. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

For students who want to enter the nursing profession more quickly, SVCC offers a one-year, three-semester program leading to a Certificate in Practical Nursing (PN). Upon completion, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensing Exam-Practical Nurse).

Nurse Aide Training provides the quickest entry into a patient-care oriented career. Adult students can enroll in a seven-week FastForward Workforce program, and dually enrolled high school students can pursue a one-semester program leading to a Nurse Aide Career Studies Certificate. Graduates may then apply to take the certification exam for Nurse Aide.

SVCC is proud of its role in educating the nurses who will serve hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, clinics, nursing homes, private practices, and other healthcare organizations across our region. As this academic year ends, we are delighted to honor 41 ADN graduates and seven PN graduates.

Choosing among the various routes to the nursing profession can be confusing. Arthur suggests, “Prospective nursing students can evaluate their interests and current abilities by considering their academic background, career goals, and personal strengths. They can also seek guidance from academic advisors, health science counselors, and nursing program coordinators, who can give them information about the different nursing programs available, the admission requirements, and career prospects.”

If you or someone you know is considering a career in nursing, there is a wealth of information on SVCC’s website at www.southside.edu/nursing. Prospective students are also invited to attend informational sessions and to meet with our health sciences counselor, Amanda Shook (amanda.shook@southside.edu; 434-736-2214).

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, which covers 10 counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.