SCCTC kicks off new LPN program
BY PAT FARNELLI
New practical nursing students gathered for their orientation Monday at a grand opening for the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center’s first Licensed Practical Nurse program.
SCCTC director Alice Davis called the 40 students “the best of the best” from a field of applicants for the new program.
Davis said that a feasibility study conducted by the career center found that the medical field is the highest priority career need in the immediate area, and that nursing jobs will never be outsourced.
LPN director Sherrie Bazin said that Susquehanna County has the highest percentage of elderly population in the state, yet also has the highest rate of LPNs retiring from the work force.
She said to the new students, “You never forget your first roller coaster ride, and I promise you, you will never forget this year.”
She told the students that by this time next year, they will return for their graduation. In one year, they will complete the requirements for their practical nurse license and be ready to take the exams for a registered nurse program if they wish.
Students will train on state of the art medical mannequins that Bazin can program to function in remarkably human ways. As she demonstrated, a small IPOD-like device called a SIM Pad enabled her to program a mannequin to breathe, have fluctuations in blood pressure, become asthmatic or tachycardic, cough, groan, answer questions, and even scream.
The mannequins can be catheterized, intubated, given oxygen, injected, and given IVs by the nursing students, who will work with them as skills lab patients. Rather than practicing giving injections on an orange, nurses can insert IVs and give injections to mannequin arms that simulate human circulation.
Six mannequins are currently residing in the career center’s ward, including an infant, a child, two elderly women, and two adults, which can be male or female with interchanging parts.
An additional mannequin, which will be purchased later, is capable of giving birth, Bazin said. This mannequin, valued at $50,000, will be added to the ward when the bridge program to a registered nurse program is implemented.
The mannequins cost between $5,000 and $7,000 for the adult versions. The infant is $27,000, but Bazin did some sleuthing and found a brand new baby by the same company, offered online through Army surplus for $1,300.
“I know Susquehanna County is very frugal with tax money, so I looked for a less expensive one,” she said.
Bazin is an Elk Lake graduate who spent most of her adult years in Miami, Fla.
She told the group, “By state regulation, I can teach 30 percent, and only 30 percent, of the instruction.”
Luzerne County Community College will be teaching courses in sociology, psychology, nutrition and human growth, which she said will be a win-win for students, who will receive 21 transferable college credits for these necessary courses if they pass college entrance exams.
She said that four or five clinical sites will be utilized, including Golden Living in Tunkhannock, Barnes Kasson Hospital in Susquehanna, Meadow View in Montrose, Lourdes (pending state approval), and Endless Mountains Health Center in Montrose on both the hospital and long term care sides.
In addition to her teaching hours, Bazin is responsible for administration of the program and establishment of an LPN to RN bridge program.
The LPN program is 1765 hours, divided between classroom time, clinical time and work in the skills lab. The cost per student is $12,500 and includes a laptop computer, texts, a Littman stethoscope, two sets of uniforms, and a clinical student kit.
Financial aid is available with submission of a FAFSA form, and can include scholarships from local organizations such as TREHAB and nursing organizations, such as student loans.
Bazin said that many of the LPN students are young mothers or single adults who need to build credit, and the student loan program is a good way to do that.
Bazin said that she will be supervising other supervisors as well as the skills lab when she is not teaching.
Two registered nurses, Linda Hoover and Darlene Drake, will be serving as advisers.
Clinical supervisors will include Holly Shaull, Barb Brumbaugh, Bonnie Reynolds, and Kathleen Koopman.