New nursing programs gear up at Career Tech Center

Nursing students work toward LPN (licensed practical nurse) degrees in program offered by Blount County Career Tech Center

Nursing students work toward LPN (licensed practical nurse) degrees in program offered by Blount County Career Tech Center

A program now available at the Blount County Career Technical Center enables Blount County high school students to enroll as dual enrollment students there and complete course work leading to an LPN in nursing. The program is offered in conjunction with the Snead State Community College satellite presence at the Career Tech Center.

Students will begin ideally as sophomores in high school and complete most of the program there with only a final summer semester’s work on campus at Snead State following high school graduation. At that point, they will receive LPN (licensed practical nurse) degrees. They may then choose to apply the Snead State’s fast track program leading to an RN in nursing with only three additional semesters of work on campus at Snead State.

Referred to as the “dual enrollment program,” it provides all tuition free of charge through a special grant at this time. Career Tech instructor Jennifer Chambers warns that because of the economic downturn, funding prospects for free tuition are uncertain after the 2009- 2010 school year.

Shown above are local students who will be the first graduates from the program (from left): Destiny Powell of Oneonta High School; Audria Thomas of Hayden; Delana McWhorter of Pennington; Dr Laura Steadman, Snead nursing instructor; Rachael Vaughn of Susan Moore; Jessica Williams of Cleveland; and Career Tech Center instructor and RN Jennifer Chambers. McWhorter and Vaughn will complete the LPN program this summer and continue into the RN fast track program at Snead. The remaining three students will continue their instruction at the Career Tech Center as seniors next year.

Chambers said the program will accommodate up to 20 students beginning in the fall, but emphasized that it’s not designed for indifferent students. “Nursing is a career field where we have to have high-calibre people. It takes a dedicated student, one who’s a little more mature than average, to succeed. They’re getting the same course work, clinicals, and contingencies here as on-campus college students, so that’s why we say it’s not for everyone. We work closely with high school counselors to identify the kind of students who can succeed in the program.”

A recently-approved additional program is the Early College Enrollment Program. It enables students to enroll in a career nursing program as full-time college students, while still in high school. Students will still get high school credits, a high school diploma, and can participate in high school extracurricular activities, but would actually attend the Snead State main campus at Boaz during their junior and senior years of high school. Tuition is free to students who qualify for and enroll in this program. Further details are available from Jennifer Chambers at the Career Tech Center, who said she welcomes inquiries about both programs from students and parents. Those interested should call 625-3424 and ask to speak to her.