The nursing program co-sponsored by Cloud County Community College and North Central Kansas Technical College has a dramatically progressive history.
In August of 1969, twenty-nine students and three instructors began working and studying in some renovated rooms in the Masonic Building in Concordia, Kansas. This was the first Practical Nursing class sponsored by the Area Vocational Technical School. In addition to the challenge of a new program, the students and instructors responded to multiple surprises and frustrations associated with the building. The clinical experiences were held at St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Cloud County Health Department. In August of 1970, the first class of twenty-seven students graduated on a Friday. The following Monday the second class of thirty-three students started the program.
The second and third classes in the program continued to have classes and clinical experiences similar to the first class. Although the building didn’t present too many surprises, the challenges it presented were met by experienced instructors who could outwit the balking furnace, deal with the pre-school age vandals, and in general keep the whole program progressing satisfactorily.
Upon graduation of the third class in 1972, the program was moved to temporary facilities in the basement of Mitchell County Hospital in Beloit. This facility was not without challenges but the students and instructors quickly made friends with the summer bugs and toads who were in residence. The first major curriculum changes were made for this class by shortening the program to forty-two weeks and incorporating a clinical experience with gerontological patients. Because Mitchell County Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital were both used for clinical experience, students were rotated between the two hospitals. Those with clinical experience at St. Joseph’s were transported by school bus. The bus presented nearly as many thrills as the building but a faithful driver persisted in getting students to and from Concordia each day. For one year the bus was equipped with a public address system and post conferences were held on the return trips. Conference content sometimes caused the driver to be distracted and certainly added to his fringe benefits.
In August of 1973, the class number was increased to forty-four students after adequate resources were identified. A fourth instructor was then added to the staff.
In the spring of 1974, representatives from the health service agencies in the Hays area approached the Area Vocational-Technical School with a request to provide a Practical Nurse program to help meet their local nurse-power needs. A proposal was submitted to the Department of Education for funding of a PN level in Hays, Kansas, and monies were approved late in July. In the next few weeks, instructors were hired and applicants were recruited, screened, and selected. A classroom was located in the basement of St. Anthony Hospital. Clinical facilities were arranged with St. Anthony Hospital and Hadley Regional Medical Center at Hays and St. John’s Nursing Center in Victoria. The satellite program was launched. The class moved into a new self-contained facility on the St. Anthony Hospital grounds in the fall of 1977.
Plans were initiated in January of 1975 to develop an Associate Degree Nursing Program at Cloud County Community College. After study of the program purposes and available resources, the administrative officers of the Community College and the Vocational Technical School agreed to co-sponsor a career ladder program in nursing for Practical Nurses and Associate Degree Nurses. The nursing department chairman of the Vocational Technical School nursing faculty was appointed as the nursing program coordinator and faculty members from other departments within the college planned a career ladder program which was approved by the Kansas State Board of Nursing in March 1976. The first students to be admitted into the co-sponsored program began study in August 1977. Once again the program was confronted with changes and new challenges. Students were studying nursing as well as general education courses with other college students. The faculty felt the impact of teaching in a new and unproven level.
In August of 1976, the total co-sponsored program was in operation with three instructors at the Hays satellite campus, four instructors at the Beloit campus and four at the Cloud County Community College campus. A total of seventy-one students were enrolled in the nursing program at the Practical Nurse level and twenty-eight at the Associate Degree level. The clinical experiences were held in five general hospitals, three nursing homes, physician offices, a youth center and two day care facilities. In the spring of 1977, ninety-six of the ninety-nine students who started the program in August were graduated.
Beginning with the inception of the program, the underlying philosophy has been to offer a program of study based on excellence. To this end the faculty and administration have systematically reviewed and revised the program to keep it creative, current and vital. The reviews and revisions have taken into consideration available resources, student achievement, employer satisfaction, state and national trends in nursing and criteria for excellence as established by the National League for Nursing.
The faculty conducted an intensive self-study of the Practical Nurse program in 1974 - 75 and in the spring of 1976 received initial accreditation of the program by the National League for Nursing for eight years. During the 1982-83 school years the practical nurse level was the focus of a self-study and in June 1983 was reaccredited for a period of eight years.
The Associate Degree level of the program began self-study during the developmental stage. The written document was submitted to the Council of Associate Degree Programs in the fall of 1978. The faculty, administration, graduates and students were disappointed to learn that the Council deferred accreditation and gave the faculty and administration two years to carry out recommendations to correct the deficiencies. The faculty took the deferred status as an opportunity to “make a good program better.” During the 1979-80 school year, changes were made to more nearly meet the criteria established by the Council of Associate Degree Programs. A progress report was submitted in the spring of 1980 and initial accreditation was granted in June 1980. In June of 1987 the associate degree level was reaccredited by NLN for eight years.
The school years of 1985-86 and 1986-87 were years of transition for all three campuses. In August 1985, the Hays department moved into the south building on the Vo-Tech Campus. In December 1986, the Concordia department moved to a newly remodeled building in Technical West. During Christmas break the Beloit department moved into the Business Building on the Vo-Tech Campus.
The 1987-88 school year began with full classes at the first level and thirty-three second level students. National attention on the nursing shortage, as well as the entry to practice issue, may have had an influence on enrollment. A major occurrence was the fire on the Hays campus. The building sustained major damage and many of the lab supplies, teaching aides, and library books were lost. Fortunately the building and contents were covered by insurance. The faculty on the Hays campus was resourceful and innovative in maintaining a learning environment.
In 1989 the National League for Nursing visited the practical nursing level of the program. With the rapidly changing trends in health care and education, the faculty was not surprised to have a revisit scheduled in 1996.
With the nineties came an increased awareness of outcome (competency) based education. The curriculum reflected the faculty’s commitment to this teaching/learning strategy. Noted also was a movement towards computer competency to enhance student learning and client care. With a continued influx of “non-traditional” students the faculty remained creative in the approach to classroom and clinical learning.
The 1994 graduating class at the Beloit campus was honored as the 25th class. In 1994-95 the program was visited by the Kansas State Board of Nursing in the fall and by the AD Council of NLN in the spring. A site visit by the PN Council of NLN took place in the spring of 1996. Each level received continuing accreditation. On July 1, 1996, NCKAVTS formally became North Central Kansas Technical College. In the fall of 1996, NCKTC assumed responsibility for Associate Degree nursing education in Hays.
In the spring of 1999, final approval was granted to separate Hays from the Beloit – Concordia program. Now a two-campus program with eight faculty members, a program coordinator, and a secretary began anew.
For the 2000-01 academic school years the PN level was limited to thirty-two. For 2001-02 admission was limited to twenty-two. Also the program calendar length was shortened from ten and a half months to nine months. However, the student contact time remained constant.
In summary the program started in 1969 with three instructors, twenty-nine students and two clinical agencies. Today the program is co-sponsored by two education agencies, has three attendance locations and utilizes ten clinical agencies. A staff of twelve faculty members provides nursing instruction for approximately 120 students. There are several coincident factors that made and are making this program work. First (not necessarily in order of importance), a need was recognized. Second, local school administrators were receptive to new ideas and were willing to chart new courses. Third, state-level administrators were open to innovative approaches and willing to work with local officials to make the program meet everyone’s standards. Fourth, faculty members were willing to do the necessary work and self-examination to write a new curriculum based on proven models and up grade their current educational preparation. Fifth, determined, wise leadership of the program coordinator (Mrs. Sue Akers) pulled all the components together. Finally, the reason for which the program exists, the students were eager to learn and readily accept this program’s philosophy.
The program continues to work with the advisory committee to create an even stronger bond between education and service. The competencies of the course are being reviewed for relevance and the profile revised. Faculty remains committed to finding clinical learning situations that address the program outcomes. A watchful eye remains on the nursing shortage and our ability to address it.
The PN level sacrificed NLNAC Accreditation. The associate degree level had a positive site visit in the spring of 2003 and received continuing accreditation for eight years.
During the 2006 academic year plans to admit students twice a year at the PN level were formulated. The Kansas State Board of Regents with the support of the Kansas State Board of Nursing had issued a directive for program size to increase. With a sense of adventure similar to those who founded the program, the nursing faculty accepted the new challenge with a positive attitude and flexibility. The students responded. With the critical shortage of nursing faculty, many adjunct faculty members were assigned for specialized content areas and clinical experiences. In the Fall of 2008, a core curriculum developed by the practical nursing programs of Kansas with direction from the Kansas Board of Regents and the Kansas State Board of Nursing was implemented. Spring of 2009 brought the end of the combined program. North Central Kansas Technical College indicated their intent to continue a PN program but felt the need for a full-time Nursing Administrator. Cloud County Community College continued to provide education leading from LPN to ADN. Although the official ties were broken, proximity and need will direct a cooperative relationship in the future.
For the 2011-2012 academic year faculty anticipates adoption of the core curriculum as developed by the State of Kansas and using the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses project (QSEN) competencies as an integral guide.
Since its inception one thousand eleven students have graduated from the Associate Degree Program. The first graduate of the program was present to pin the 1000th graduate at the pinning ceremony on May 14th, 2010.