Endless Possibilities: Associate degree nursing program producing qualified RNs

Staff Writer

Registered nurses make up the largest group of health care professionals in the United States. Responsibilities for RNs vary from educating patients on conditions and treatment plans, administering and coordinating patient care and providing advice or emotional support to patients and their family members.

According to the U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, most RNs worked in private and local general medical and surgical hospitals.

Other RNs work in home health services, doctors’ offices, nursing care facilities or travel to homes, schools or community centers.

“An RN has endless possibilities,” said Dayna Davidson, director of the KC Associate Degree Nursing Program.

Registered nurses also take on supervisory roles. In a hospital an RN supervisor may be in charge of a team of nurses working in an emergency or operating room or supervise a team of nurses in a doctor’s office by administering duties to the staff.

“The RN is usually in a supervisory position…you may have a more team approach…everyone on a unit and then the job responsibilities are distributed,” Davidson said.

Ten prerequisites must be completed before entering the program.

“It really is an advantage if everyone has finished all 10 of those,” Davidson said.

“They must complete all of their science courses (Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology I and II and Microbiology) before coming into the program,” Davidson said.

There is a priority registration for the science courses and students are urged to sign up for these courses immediately.

Students participating in the program are also required to take entrance exams.

A student has the choice of either taking the Health Education Systems Inc. Admission Assessment (HESI A2) exam or the Test of Essential Skills Version 5 (TEAS-V). Students must be able to read at a college level so the Nelson -Denny Reading Test is also required.

Fifty students are enrolled in both the fall and spring semester. The program is 16 months long, including one summer and consists of 72 hours.

The program must retain a 70 percent graduation rate.

“The Texas Higher Education Co-Board considers us an over 70 school,” Davidson said.

Student candidates are chosen by their overall test performance.

“They get points for their overall GPA, they get points for their science GPA, they get points for their Nelson-Denny and they get points for the entrance exam,” Davidson said.

KC does not offer job placement for the nursing students, but each student is assigned seven clinical experiences in health facilities all over East Texas.

“Every clinical experience they have, students should treat like an interview,” Davidson said.

During clinical assignments students are with nurses and directors which allows them to get to know the staff, which in turn observes their performance.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for RNs is $52,330.

Upon completion of the program, students must take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Once a student has passed the NCLEX-RN they are licensed as a Registered Nurse.

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