published Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Chattanooga College unveils yearlong nursing program

  • photo
    Edmesta Lockhart, front, and Christina King study Tuesday in their Dental Terminology class at Chattanooga College in this file photo.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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AT A GLANCE

What: Nursing program at Chattanooga College

Time to complete: 1 year, offered during day only

Credit hours: 82

Clock hours: 1,366

Tuition, books and fees: $18,025

Source: Chattanooga College

Starting in October, students can begin enrolling in a new nursing program at Chattanooga College.

Officials with the for-profit school of about 375 students plan to enroll 50 in a yearlong program that will culminate with the Licensed Practical Nurse exam.

The students will receive training at area hospitals, labs and clinics as well as the school's new 5,000-square-foot teaching facility at the Eastgate Center on Brainerd Road, college officials say. The new facility will include both classrooms and a lab outfitted with monitors, training dummies and lab tests.

"We wanted to offer a program where, when students graduate, they can get a job," said school Vice President Toney McFadden.

However, the role of licensed practical nurses is changing.

"The use of LPNs in hospitals is down," said Memorial Hosiptal Chief Nurse Executive Diona Brown, "I bet less than 5 percent of our nursing staff are LPN."

She noted that the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine has recommended that, by 2020, 80 percent of hospital nurses should have bachelor's degrees.

"LPNs are limited a bit in their [patient] assessments and in their scope," she said.

But Brown added that there are many other opportunities for LPNs, especially at nursing homes, where they often make up the majority of the nursing staff.

LPNs also can pursue higher certification while they work, and hospitals such as Memorial are encouraging their nurses to go back to school, Brown said.

Chattanooga College's LPN program will join Chattanooga State Community College as the only such program in Hamilton County, school administrators said.

The administrators also explained the arduous process of accrediting the school, which includes working with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and hosting visitors from the Tennessee Board of Nursing, who assessed the need and feasibility for the program.

They also had to meet before the board of nursing in Nashville to discuss their curriculum, which will introduce students to diverse areas of practice including infant care, elder care and mental health, said Judith Hobdy, the school's director of Practical Nursing.

The community has responded positively to the new program announcement, she said, and only days after placing ads for the LPN program the school has received 75 inquiries.

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