GCC Nursing Programs Affirmed for Rigor and Excellence

May 29, 2018

The Nursing Programs at Greenfield Community College have a reputation for rigor and excellence. This is well known in the Valley and has now been affirmed by the recent Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing Approval. But there is more going on than maintaining a status quo. As Nancy Craig Williams, Assistant Dean of Nursing explains, “Both of our nursing programs, Practical Nursing (PN) and Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN), receive yearly approval. The board looks at our graduates, how they have done on the NCLEX pass rates. They look at our faculty. This year both our programs had remarkable pass rates; the PN program had a 96% first time pass rate and the AD program had a 90% first time pass rate. So we know we are doing this right.”

The healthcare environment is constantly changing and in more ways than just new medications and advanced procedures. Patients are spending less time in acute care, (the hospital) and more time in sub-acute care facilities such as rehab and long-term care. Williams adds, “Our students are in high demand. We are seeing a shift in our PN’s being hired in offices. They continue to be much needed in long-term care. And now our ADN students are not only in the acute care setting – the hospital – but also long-term care, in home care, settings that are taking the place of the hospital for extended stays and recovery.”

With all these changes in the health care environments, nurses must learn and adapt. “With the additional knowledge acquired in a Bachelor’s Degree program, these nurses can do that,” says Williams. “Baystate Health Systems, for example, requires that they have a bachelor’s degree. They can be hired but they have to agree to be enrolled in a BS in Nursing Program while they are working there.”

GCC is proactive about meeting these changes. Nursing students have been able to earn their BS in Nursing from Elms, (on the Greenfield Campus) since 2015.  In addition, starting this fall, a student will be able to enroll at Westfield State at the same time as enrolling at GCC. Nursing classes will be held at Smith Vocational in Northampton. As Chief of Academic and Student Affairs, Catherine Seaver explains, “This will be a joint admissions program. It’s great for a number of reasons. Students can do 90 credits with us; they save money, they’re GCC students for longer, then they get to finish up in a hybrid manner and have their bachelor’s degree a year later. We are really excited about that.” She adds, “We’re trying to help students have their path defined from the beginning and know where they’re going. I really enjoy these opportunities of working with other schools. These partnerships are great for both the students and the schools.”

Helping students achieve their goals is the mission of GCC. But as Division Dean Mary Ellen Fydenkevez adds, “These approvals shows that we maintain our curriculum, that we support our students, and that we have strong faculty. We change, we’re flexible, we move with what’s needed for our community employers because we listen to them. We do the best we can to support those students to be able to get those jobs. These approvals and the 10 year accreditations confirm this.”

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