Nursing education is entering a new, dynamic period. As a nursing educator and a leader at a community college for many years, the importance of a community college and the impact it plays is demonstrated with each graduate that crosses the stage.
Community colleges have assisted in bridging the gap and assisted in meeting the needs of underserved and diverse students. Associate degree nursing (ADN) programs graduate more African-American, Latino and Native American registered nurses than other types of prelicensure nursing programs, according to data from the Campaign for Action.
Editor’s note: This excerpt comes from the new issue of AACC’s Community College Journal.
In addition, these nursing graduates most often choose to stay in their community and work. These graduates know, understand and embrace the needs of their community, and they personally benefit from the decreased cost in tuition and length of the program.
Community colleges play a crucial role in educating individuals who desire to become a nurse. Registered nursing graduates with an associate degree also are choosing to continue their education and acquire additional skills and competencies that will serve their communities.
Community colleges are working diligently to ensure a seamless plan for transitioning to higher degrees in nursing. Whether it be a baccalaureate program at the community college, dual admission, concurrent enrollment or RN-to-BSN program, the key is seamless transition.
Removing the barriers to ensure students continue the learning momentum is something we must stress as community college leaders.
Most recently, Donna Meyer, CEO of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN), had the opportunity to testify to the National Academy of Medicine on the future of nursing for 2020-2030. This represented the only testimony to this blue-ribbon national commission exclusively focused on the contributions of community colleges to the national nursing workforce.
Over the years, OADN — an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges — has been at the forefront and involved in the transformation of nursing education. The community-based institutions that OADN represents educate more than 50 percent of all newly licensed professional registered nurses, an average of 81,000 annually, according to the national Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Close collaboration with prominent national healthcare organizations ensures that the interests of associate degree nursing programs are represented in national policy decision making. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), for example, now officially cites the value and important role a community college plays in educating the workforce, noting the capacity to provide individuals with the ability to launch careers, setting them on path to achieve goals, and helping our nation meet access needs for an aging and chronically ill population.