By Sharon Goldfarb, RN, MSN, FNP, BC, Associate Dean of Nursing & Allied Health
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the nursing shortage will persist through 2025. In addition to nationwide shortages, the need for qualified nurses is impacted by health trends such as the aging baby-boomers, the sky-rocketing obesity epidemic and the need for chronic disease management – especially diabetes and its complications. The healthcare field is also rapidly expanding and evolving with new discoveries, medications, and technologies. For example, the science of genetics, genomics, and epigenetics is changing the medical field dramatically. At the convergence of all these factors is the crucial need for highly-skilled nurses.
Los Medanos College is meeting the challenge head-on. LMC is proud of its three nursing programs that educate and train more than 100 nursing students a year: the Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) program; the Associate Degree in Nursing (AND) program; and the LVN-to-RN program. The nurses who graduate from LMC have a stellar reputation in the community, and the Nursing program has a 100% job placement rate.
The LVN program admits 32 new students every three semesters under the tutelage of Assistant Professor Deborah Hawkes, who has been an emergency nurse at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center since 1994 and an instructor at LMC for 18 years. She is in the process of piloting a virtual simulation program to use current technologies to enhance clinical knowledge.
The ADN training takes two years, with a new cohort of 32 students entering each Fall semester. Their nursing education journey begins with nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, skills lab, and medical-surgical nursing. It is exciting to see the students’ transformation under the skilled instruction of the program faculty: Julie O’Brien, a long-time medical-surgical nurse at John Muir Walnut Creek; Joanne Bent, the program’s fundamental and psychiatric content expert; and the newest addition to the Nursing team, Jeremy Weed, who is completing his clinical doctorate.
Based on attrition and grant funding, the second-year LVN-to-RN cohort increases to 40 students for the final two semesters. Having a pathway for LVNs to become Registered Nurses (RNs) is an important element of LMC’s Nursing program. The faculty leads for the second-year cohort include Trang Nguyen and Colin McDowell, both seasoned medical-surgical nurses, and many talented clinical instructors who train the students with the College’s clinical partners: Sutter Health, John Muir Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, and UCSF.
The Nursing faculty at Los Medanos College are well-educated and accomplished in their profession, yet the program’s distinction truly lies in its dedication to and support of students. Kristina Silva, class of 2018 said, “The LMC nursing program is a wonderful place because the staff is more supportive than any other nursing school. They want to see you succeed and will do everything to help you succeed.” LMC’s most recent statistics attest to this fact. For the class that graduated in May 2018, Los Medanos College had the second lowest attrition rate in the state – at only 4%. In addition, the College had a 100% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). All of LMC’s students also progressed into BSN or graduate-level programs. Through partnerships with California State University, East Bay, the Ohio University online BSN, and Touro University’s accelerated ADN to Master’s in Nursing, Los Medanos College is meeting the challenge of having a strong and well-educated workforce.