For the last two years running, Chemeketa Community College’s nursing program has been voted #1 in the state.
The recognition was given by registerednursing.org, a nonprofit organization composed of nurses and official nursing organizations from around the country, such as the National Student Nursing Association, who visit and rate nursing programs.
Chemeketa received a 99.55% rating with comments such as: “Experienced faculty is prepared to lead graduates to the top of the nursing field,” and noted that prospective students will benefit from their holistic approach to medicine.
Sandi Kellogg, Dean of Health Services at Chemeketa, described being voted #1 a second year in a row as rewarding and that, while Kellogg and others know the program is exceptional, it is heartening to have that recognition from another authoritative source.
The award they received this year is in regards to the program success of 2023 as the previous award focused on actions by the program in 2022.
Kellogg stated that the entire nursing faculty deserves the credit as well as the Chemeketa school administration for the support they gave teaching staff.
Kellogg described how running programs like these are both expensive and labor intensive, making the receptiveness from the school to invest in more innovative technology is welcome, especially after the issues posed by the pandemic.
To enter the program, prospective students must take and pass a pre-nursing exam to ensure potential students have enough background to be a successful candidate in the program.
It is also recommended by Kellogg that students wanting to enter the program should complete the needed general education prerequisites to receive full points towards their application.
Once accepted, students pursuing the Associates degree will need 2 years of instruction which includes lectures, clinical activities as well as laboratory activities.
The lab section of the program consists of activities and scenarios involving each other, low-fidelity and high-fidelity mannequins, as well as 2D virtual reality and 3D immersive VR simulations.
Clinical activities in the program involve working with workforce partners like Salem Health to place students into a real-world working environment.
Once students complete the required curriculum, they are required to take the National Council Licensure Examination [for] Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to acquire their licensing from the state.
The 2-year program accepts around 40 students each Fall term. Students who successfully pass the first year are able to take the NCLEX-PN exam so they can become a certified LPN while they continue in school for their full degree.
After completing their second year, students are then eligible to take the NCLEX-RN to earn a license as a registered nurse.
Noting no difference in how they operate their program in comparison to others, Kellog did muse that things such as the pre-nursing exam as well as the other prerequisites may help with the current success rate in the program which, as of 2022, had a graduation rate of 85% and an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 100%.
In hard n u m b e r s , this graduation success rate equates to around 35 out of the 40 students graduating each year from the program.
When asked about if the #1 spot changes the course or how staff will approach it, Kellogg responded that it did not.
If anything, Kellogg noted, it’s that having a system of needed prerequisites has better prepared students for the rigors of the program.
“If it’s not broken then we don’t need to fix it. Instead, I tell faculty to keep up the good work,” Kellogg said.
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