Recognizing an urgent need for growing our local healthcare workforce, Erin Mock, Director of Nursing Education at Bolivar Technical College and Charlotte Gray, President at Bolivar Technical College, spearheaded a grant proposal to the Missouri State Board of Nursing (MSBN) in the fall of 2022. The goal of the proposal was to receive funds that would allow BTC to collaborate with local healthcare and education entities to address the nursing shortage in Bolivar, Missouri, and in surrounding communities while promoting the profession of nursing. The MSBN granted BTC the funds to focus on three specific initiatives.
The first initiative is to establish a pilot program for Bolivar High School Health Occupation students, with plans to expand to other local schools. Students in the BHS Health Occupation class interested in going into nursing will be given the opportunity to transition into a spring Practical Nursing (LPN) cohort following high school graduation.
"We are honored to be a part of this amazing opportunity for high school students interested in a nursing career,” Robin Wallace, BHS Health Occupations teacher, said. “Through BTC, our students will not only have a paid transition semester but be able to fast track into the nursing field.”
BTC hopes to help students reach their goals in the nursing field quickly and successfully. The grant money will go toward funding a transition semester for those BHS Health Occupations students to set up a strong higher-education foundation and prepare for the LPN program at BTC. Students will receive one-on-one mentoring and support from a dedicated BTC nursing faculty to help navigate the challenges of a nursing program and reach their goals.
The second initiative is to develop a robust preceptor training program for the newly implemented Nurse Apprenticeship program with Citizens Memorial Hospital. BTC and CMH launched the Nurse Apprenticeship program in the summer of 2022. The initial program has been a success with four LPN students completing clinical rotations at CMH during their program and going on to work at CMH after graduating in December 2022. The second group of Nurse Apprentices have begun clinical rotations at CMH as Professional Nursing (RN) students. The Nurse Apprenticeship program is an immersion into the CMH culture where students can develop a deeper understanding of classroom concepts and build upon previous clinical experiences.
As part of a BTC nursing program, students are required to complete clinical hours in healthcare facilities. Through the apprenticeship program, students can complete those clinical hours at CMH during their nursing program and get paid. This may eliminate a barrier for someone who couldn’t otherwise reduce work hours or afford to go to nursing school. It also promotes consistency in clinical experience: students learn and practice within one health system instead of multiple sites.
“This program is unique in that it offers BTC students more than just monetary support,” Sarah Hanak, CMH Chief Nursing Officer, said. “As they complete their nursing program, we are able to provide numerous opportunities, in a variety of clinical settings, to help them identify where they want to start their nursing career. These experiences offer additional training and support that is helping new graduate nurses gain greater confidence and increased success as they transition into practice.”
The third initiative is to expand BTC’s excellent simulation program to include virtual simulation to meet technology demands currently experienced in nursing. Technology, education and healthcare systems are partners in patient care, even more so due to the pandemic. Nursing students are hands-on active-learners, more so than even five years ago; because of this, BTC has moved away from the historically teacher-centered approach to a more learner-centered approach in education.
Utilizing new technology from the grant funds, students will be able to assess patients’ situations and educate their patients more clearly using up-to-date practices.
“While interaction in the live healthcare environment remains our primary training method, simulation allows us to prepare students for experiences that they may not encounter in clinical or to perfect skills and practices in a 'safe' environment before providing patient care,” Erin Mock, Director of Nursing Education at BTC explained. “Virtual simulation is the next step in expanding the impact of our amazing simulation program to meet these goals.”
Initiative three also allowed the college to purchase several tablets for clinical patient charting and distance education to be conducted for students in quarantine. We are thrilled to be one of eleven Missouri colleges to receive this grant from the MSBN and look forward to the impact it will have on our students and local healthcare facilities.