Nursing Celebrates 50-Year Program

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el-vaquero-staff-writer/" class="creditline">BONNIE SCHIDNLER
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The past, present and future of the nursing program at GCC were recognized and honored Friday in the Student Center.

The event, “Nursing Then and Now: Celebrating 50 Years of Nursing Education,” focused on the long-running program.

“This celebration celebrates the nursing department, which has provided quality education since 1953,” said Sally Black, assistant professor of nursing.

The nursing department transformed SC212 into a banquet hall, complete with appetizers provided by the culinary class on campus, white tablecloths, balloons and door prizes.

An entire wall of the room was dedicated to the books and pamphlets from each year since 1953 and class photos of nursing graduates.

“The pictures are to show that it is the students, the graduates and the faculty that make up the program,” said Dr. Sharon Hall, associate dean of allied health.

Many of those in attendance of the event, were past and present members of the nursing program.

The event brought students back to GCC for a reunion with past classmates, teachers, current faculty members and students from nursing and allied health, including the second, third, and fourth semester nursing class presidents. The celebration was also attended by community representatives.

Valerie Cuevas, representative for the office of Assemblymember Carol Liu, and Anahid Oshagan, representative for the office of Congressman Adam Schiff, presented honorable recognition certificates to the nursing program and congratulated them on 50 years.

The nursing program started in the 1950s as a licensed vocational nursing program. These students graduated from the program in one year, took a licensing examination and then worked under a registered nurse or a physician.

“It only seemed logical that the next step [for GCC] was to branch into registered nursing education,” Hall said.

In 1981, the licensed vocational nursing program added another year to the curriculum to prepare students to take the Registered Nurse examination. In 1987, “the program became a generic registered nurse program, for those who wanted to become a registered nurse without becoming a licensed vocational nurse first,” Hall said. Some of the current faculty members have been at GCC for the changes that the program endured.
“Sally Black, GCC nursing graduate of 1981, and I are both full-time faculty who had our roots here,” said Cynthia Dorroh, assistant professor of nursing. “We both started our nursing careers as licensed vocational nursing students here at GCC, went on to further our education, gained clinical experience and ultimately returned as faculty.” Students currently enrolled in the program, which is four semesters long, are able to get a well-rounded education.

Students not only get to utilize the nursing skills laboratory, housed in the San Fernando complex buildings, which hold beds, computers, mannequins and equipment, for practice; they also get to use their learned skills in a real clinical setting.

“Students are in the hospital or other health care settings every week for an average of 15 hours,” Hall said. “Our instructors accompany the students, work with them and the hospital nursing staff, to care for patients. The students then rotate through all of the areas of specialty, such as general and medical surgical patients, children, maternity, and psychiatric areas.” The faculty of today’s program changed their curriculum to meet the changes in the community and to help expose students to current nursing settings.

“An example of health care today is home health care hospice, outpatient education, infusion clinics and school nursing,” Black said. This experience prepares students for their careers and gives them an associate’s degree, upon completion of the four semesters. Since 70 percent of California nursing graduates hold only associate’s degrees, and the demand for nurses with higher education is needed, GCC implemented the pre-baccalaureate transfer option.

The transfer program allows those students planning to transfer to Cal State L.A., which is GCC’s nursing program partner school, to complete their prerequisites at GCC.

“This is a benefit to both the student and taxpayer, as it broadens the sights of our students to further their education and increases the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees,” Hall said. The newly added weekend/evening nursing program also benefits students wanting more from their careers.

The weekend/evening program is designed to enroll those students that have a conflicting schedule during the daytime classes. While the program is only open during the spring semester and holds a maximum of 12 students, Hall hopes that when the budget improves in the future, the class size will enlarge. The future of the nursing program involves the continued desire to keep up with the ever-changing health field and a new building that will house the program in 2006.

The new building, “which will be augmented by Measure G,” will be directly behind the Advanced Technology Center building on campus, Hall said. Although no construction has begun on the building, Hall said, the three-story structure, “if according to schedule, should be ready for occupancy in winter session 2006.”