Nursing and Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) Programs
Ask most of the people you know who have chosen a career in health care and they will tell you that the career chose them . . . not the other way around. For many, it is a calling; something they have always wanted to do. It’s more than just about helping people. It’s about making connections, problem solving, and doing something that’s vitally important in a person’s life. “The best people for this career need to be inquisitive, caring, and respectful of the values and beliefs of others,” says Ruth Sueverkruebbe, Dean of the Nursing program at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC). Nancy Adams, Education Outreach Facilitator with Genesis Health Systems in Davenport agrees. “Nurses have a genuine sense of compassion. They intuitively want to make a difference. They put others first. They are problem solvers with big hearts.”
Area health care employers are focused on building a workforce of individuals who are committed to providing quality care – and those who are dedicated to truly caring not just for, but caring about their patients. “Nurses are in high demand and nursing is a rewarding career that grows with you,” Ms. Adams explains. “Typically a female-dominated career, many young men are now opting to become nurses. Your career pathway can begin with a CNA and continue to an ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing) to BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) all the way to NP (Nurse Practitioner).”
EICC has a strong history of training nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Graduate statistics from EICC indicate that more people holding these positions locally were trained through EICC programs than those trained anywhere else. That creates a real sense of confidence among both health care facilities and students alike. “The job market in this area is great. All major hospitals have RN openings,” points out Ms. Sueverkruebbe. “All of EICC’s recent grads have gotten jobs in nursing if they chose to go to work immediately after graduation.”
Because of a laddered approach in the curriculum design, the CNA, Practical Nursing (LPN) and Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs create a pathway to a number of career options in the nursing field. This creates flexibility for students as well as an opportunity to build upon skills already mastered. If nursing is your choice, then make EICC the choice for your education!
Clinical Experience is at the Heart of the Programs
A central feature of all of the nursing-related programs at EICC is clinical experience. Students in the program spend time in actual health-care settings as part of their training requirement. They work alongside their instructors and professional staff to get hands-on experience in working health care environments. “The clinical component of study is a strength of the programs,” says Ms. Sueverkruebbe. “This is a combination of direct patient care, care conferences, observational experiences and nursing simulation laboratory. It’s critical for students to develop a strong appreciation for what the work environment is like and to spend time with patients and professional nursing staff,” she adds.
Students couldn’t agree more. “You really don’t know until you try it. And then it is so rewarding,” commented Mary Castel, recent grad from the CNA program. “It’s very satisfying work,” adds Caleb VanFossen, recent CNA grad who is now entering the ADN program. “Clinicals give you a real sense of how much nursing is needed. I actually was looking for a career that would involve problem solving and working with people. I looked at pursuing engineering at first, but then my mom recommended health care and it’s been a great fit for me. Doing the clinical experience really convinced me.”
The clinical experience is also a huge benefit for area health employers. Cherie Brauer, Director of Nursing at the Kahl Home in Davenport, IA, explains that they are excited to have students in their facility. “It’s very valuable to us to have them on site. We can see their interaction with patients and support them in learning quality practices and competencies,” she explains. This not only enriches their training but also can expedite the learning curve should the students be hired to work there.
“This really expedites the ability to bring someone onboard confidently. They know our policies and expectations for care, and we know more about their personalities and abilities,” she adds. “It’s important to us to surround our residents with people who are compassionate; who have the right personality for being friendly and engaging. Hosting a clinical experience for EICC students is good for us and good for students.” She also makes the point that the need for well-trained students in the health care field locally is continuing to grow in all types of care facilities.
Ms. Adams has seen similar benefits through clinical experiences as well. “Providing clinical learning gives them a first-hand look at their future in the workplace. It allows students to see the medical team (CNA/RN/MD and therapies) work together to provide healing,” she says. “Building relationships, encouraging critical thinking skills and hands-on experience make clinical learning a “win” for both the student and Genesis.”
In addition to working in a clinical site, students appreciate the thoroughness of the in-class training and the availability of learning labs that mirror a health care environment. Being able to access the training in several of EICC’s college locations is also a plus for students. “The CNA program was affordable and convenient,” says Jasmine Benner, a CNA student who graduated in August. “The class schedule worked well for me, too.” The one-on-one attention from instructors also got high rankings from students. “The instructors are great,” was a unified response from the entire group when questioned about what they liked about the nursing programs. “I feel very well prepared to take the next step in my nursing education,” added Allison Kane, another recent CNA graduate.
Ms. Adams points out that the Quad City health community would like students to be educated here and stay here to work. Nursing is a career that offers job security and they are in high demand locally, adds Ms. Adams. “The future is bright for those that choose a career in nursing.”
Employment of Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN)/RNs is expected to grow much faster than the average and, because the occupation is very large, 581,500 new jobs will result, among the largest number of new jobs for any occupation. The graduate will earn approximately $41,600 in Iowa and the surrounding area. The top salary for most RNs in this area will be approximately $62,000. (These projections are for RNs that have no higher degrees.) The ADN program is 22 months/ 73.5 credit hours. Graduates are eligible to write licensure exams and to work in all 50 states. After completion of the two-year ADN program, students are academically qualified to take the NCLEX for Registered Nursing.
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges also partners with four year institutions to encourage, assist, and support the graduate’s completion of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care in many settings, including extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, home care, etc. The number of openings is growing much faster than average. The graduate will earn approximately $37,000 in Iowa and the surrounding area. The Practical Nurse program of study is 11 months/ 47 credit hours. Courses in Nursing make up 27 credit hours of the program. The PN cares for the sick, injured, convalescent, and disabled, under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses. With just one year of formal preparation in the Practical Nursing program, students are academically qualified to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Practical Nursing.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) also work in a wide variety of facilities and assist in the provision of basic care for patients/residents of long-term care. Again, the job outlook is very positive – both nationwide and in the local area. Graduates can expect to earn approximately $23,000. The CNA program of study requires 75 hours of class time, which includes an onsite clinical component. The Nurse Aide program is approved by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals for employment in a healthcare facility. Students are prepared to take the Iowa state exams for the Direct Care Worker Registry. Other courses offered for CNAs are a Medication Aide course and a Rehabilitation Aide course.
For more information on nursing-related programs offered through Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, please visit eicc.edu/healthcareers.