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Nursing Students Connect with the Community

Posted: September 16, 2015 — Robert Warner

If you or a loved one has received health care locally from a Registered Nurse, chances are high that the nurse is a graduate of FM’s Nursing Program. Health care agencies in Fulton and Montgomery Counties play a significant role in the hands-on education of the College’s nursing students, as well as being major employers of the program’s graduates. This community connection is an integral part of nursing education and nursing profession. In the game Six degrees of Kevin Bacon, players link actors to Kevin Bacon in as few steps as possible. I estimate that locally, everyone is only three steps from a relative or acquaintance who is a graduate of FM’s Nursing program.

The Nursing program had its first graduating class in 1970. However, just as health care has changed, so has nursing education at FM. Every year the program seeks input from its students, faculty, alumni, local facilities and their employees, state and national regulatory organizations. This information is utilized in an ongoing effort to continuously improve. Recently, the Nursing program completed a two-year self-study process which resulted in achievement of national accreditation. This recognition by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing fosters ongoing self-examination, re-evaluation, and focus on the future; and promotes professional and educational mobility for the program’s graduates. FM does not view this accreditation as an end point. Rather, it is a higher baseline from which to grow and evolve from.

Nursing students learn about the career path they have chosen through many different activities. Lecture and textbooks provide the factual knowledge. Simulation lab on-campus and experience in the local healthcare agencies provide the real life situations. Off-campus experiences are filled with time management challenges, ethical dilemmas, mastery of multiple technologies, and collaboration with various members of the healthcare team. It is multi-tasking at its finest, while caring for each individual patient in a respectful and humane manner.
As a nursing faculty member, it is an honor to teach these beginning nurses. I can recall many first semester students gingerly approaching the door of their first patient’s room. The task at hand was to take a blood pressure. They had practiced the skill with their classmates on campus, but this was the real thing! The students’ words and body language showed a high level of stress! Maybe I should ask the students if I need to take their blood pressure. Slow, deep breaths. Relax.

Fast forward to the student’s last semester in the Nursing program. In the College’s Nursing Simulation Lab, which contains several sophisticated, high tech human simulators with video/audio capabilities, the students are assessing the “patient” and identifying what priority interventions must be completed. In the local hospitals, each student is caring for multiple patients, collaborating with others about each patient’s individualized needs, performing blood pressures and other hands-on skills with ease, troubleshooting smart IV pumps, administering many medications in pill, intravenous and injectable form. Full speed ahead to graduation, passing the nursing licensing exam, and starting their nursing career. The scared student has evolved into a confident, professional nurse.

Nursing is not for everyone, but neither are we all destined to be accountants. Everyone has his/her unique skills and contributions to our community. If you think Nursing is for you, contact myself, Admissions, or Student Development to see how to get started.

Robert Warner is Professor/Director of the Nursing Program at FM.

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