Nursing program at college approved

Community school needs to construct specialized building

March 22, 2001|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Carroll Community College has been approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission to begin a licensed practical nursing program this fall, the first step toward offering a registered nurse program two years from now.

The RN program cannot be offered until a specialized building is constructed to teach more advanced nursing classes. College officials hope to get emergency funds this fiscal year to start design plans so the Allied Health and Nursing Building can be opened by fall 2003.

College officials want to offer residents the RN program at its Westminster campus so students won't have to go outside the county to complete courses, and to help ease the nursing shortage affecting area health care providers.

The county commissioners have given their support to the project and, at a recent meeting with the college board of trustees, promised assistance obtaining state funding.

"We want to move forward with this," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "We need $200,000 to start the design work and maybe the Board of Public Works can give us that since the need is so great."

The health building would cost an estimated $5.5 million, split between the county and state, said Alan Schuman, executive vice president of administration at the college. Officials hope to get state funding for construction next fiscal year because the nursing crisis is a high priority in the state.

"Once we get permission to proceed, then the architect selection process usually takes about three months," Schuman said. "The design process takes close to a year before it's ready to be bid and a contractor selected. Then it takes about a year to build."

The building needs to meet requirements by accreditation agencies, such as the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which approves the overall program, and Maryland Board of Nursing, which approves the curriculum.

The building would consist of lab space, multimedia space for programs such as computer assisted instruction and related courses, and office space for staff and student recordkeeping, said Judy Coen, chairwoman of the division of math, sciences, health and wellness at the college.

"The space we need is pretty much mandated by the accreditation agencies," Coen said. "For instance, you must have a hospital bed and a mock room setting with space to move equipment around, like IV [intravenous] poles."

In addition to the RN program, the building would incorporate other allied health programs, such as emergency medical technician, surgical technician and respiratory therapy.

"Our programs will be in concert with our partners in the Mid-Maryland Allied Health Care Education Consortium," Coen added.

The consortium includes Howard and Frederick community colleges that offer nursing and health programs that Carroll does not. Students can attend those colleges to complete the program they need at Carroll tuition fees.

"When you have an independent program, there are tremendous costs, not just in the physical facility, but for staff, too," Coen said. "And programs need to be accredited. We're looking at programs not already offered at our other partners."

Coen stressed that the college is trying to be as cost-conscious as possible in its health program offerings because of the expenses involved.

Coen said the nursing programs should support 100 students in its first year. Officials hope half of those students would continue through the RN program.

"We hope to put 50 RNs in the work force each year. We would also offer refresher courses for nurses who have been out of work and have to be recertified," she said.

The college recently hired Nancy Perry to coordinate development of the LPN and RN programs while it is waiting for final approval from the Maryland Board of Nursing for the LPN curriculum. Perry will teach many of the classes and supervise other nursing instructors who will be hired for the program.

Perry has spent the past 20 years at Union Memorial Hospital, where she was a staff nurse and taught for 11 years in the LPN school of nursing. She was director of nursing at Union Memorial the past two years.

Perry has a diploma of nursing from Union Memorial Hospital school of nursing, a bachelor's degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and master's degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore.

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