Washington State Community College receives $50,000 grant for nursing

MARIETTA — Washington State Community College was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from the Bernard McDonough Foundation.

The funds will support a new initiative by the college intended to address the increased demand for nurses in the Mid-Ohio Valley, officials said.

Nationwide, and specifically in the MOV, health care facilities are feeling the pinch from the nursing shortage, WSCC said.

As the demand continues to exceed the supply of skilled workers, WSCC has developed a measure to help fill the gap with its new pathway called Education and Advancement to Registered Nurse (EARN), the college said. This option is intended to attract and support non-traditional students who can advance their careers while simultaneously meeting local employment demands.

“EARN is designed to meet the immediate needs of local health care providers by helping students progress through our practical nursing program and then our associate degree nursing program while they are working in the health care field,” said Heather Kincaid, WSCC Dean of the Health & Sciences Division.

“We’ve devised it so that the skills and knowledge these students are learning in the classroom and clinical rotations will be immediately applied at work,” Kincaid said. “As the student progresses through the pathway and gains skills and knowledge, he or she may be eligible to earn industry credentials resulting in potential wage increases,” she said.

The program is beneficial to the health care partners as well because “they are guaranteed skilled employees who are invested in growing their careers,” she explained. The college is working to establish EARN partnerships with area health care facilities.

Students may enroll in nursing classes and begin working as a Patient Care Technician. Following the successful completion of the first semester, the student will be eligible to take the nurse aide competency test and become identified as a state tested nursing assistant.

That certification makes them eligible for a potential pay increase.

The next semester, following the completion of the practical nursing program, the student will take the state exam to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and will receive another bump in pay. This process will continue until the student has graduated and becomes a Registered Nurse.

“Effectively, EARN provides the student with opportunities for career advancement while they are working toward their degree. The credentials they receive are the basis for the incremental boosts in their income, which, over the course of the program has the potential to increase by more than 150 percent,” said Kincaid.

Ultimately, the funds provided by the Bernard McDonough Foundation will be used, in part, to add an additional faculty member who will serve as a success coach to support EARN students. Kincaid explained this person will be a mentor, tutor, and instructor and will be responsible for seeing students through completion of the program.

Nursing programs at WSCC have been successful, as demonstrated by licensure and job placement rates, the college said. Both the practical and associate degree nursing programs had a 100-percent pass rate on the national licensing exams.

And earlier this year both programs were ranked among the top programs in Ohio by two nationally recognized nursing websites. Both programs boast 100-percent job placement.

Enrollment in the EARN program will begin in January 2019 with classes set to begin in August. For more information on enrollment, contact Amanda Stilgenbauer at 740.885.5718 or at astilgenbauer@wscc.edu.