Education feature: CCC nursing enrollment reaches new high

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Tearney O’Connor from Portales, a first semester nursing student at Clovis Community College, documents the result of a urinary catheterization procedure she performed in class.

Benna Sayyed

Joella Valdez developed an interest in a nursing career for several reasons.

Playing nurse as a child with friends.

In and out of the hospital with severe asthma since her baby years, she always admired her medical caretakers.

Her older sister is a registered nurse.

“I had kids when I was young and now I’m trying to move forward with a career,” said Valdez, 38, of Clovis, a first year student in Clovis Community College’s fledging nursing program. “Taking care of people is something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

Valdez is one of 143 students enrolled in the CCC nursing program this semester, its highest enrollment ever. There were 129 students enrolled in fall 2011 and 126 enrolled in spring 2011.

“We’re only in our fifth week and we’ve learned a lot already,” Valdez said. “Every week we’ve learned a new procedure. The field is pretty competitive, so you have to maintain a good (grade-point average).”

Shawna McGill, nursing program director at CCC, attributes the all-time high to the quality of nursing education offered at CCC and a flexible class schedule that easily fits into students’ lifestyles.

“There is still a national nursing shortage, especially in rural areas,” McGill said. “I think that people know that there are a lot of incentives to go into nursing — pay, flexibility of hours, having different options of what they want to do. It’s stable. I think that that’s a big pull for people.”

According to McGill, an allied health building being built at CCC should be ready in April.

The CCC nursing program accepts students in the fall and in the spring. It offers license practical nurse and registered nurse certificates. After earning either certification, students take a national licensure exam to become a registered nurse. McGill said more students at CCC pursue RN certification because more RNs are being hired than LPNs.

Kimberly Casas, 19, who started in the nursing program this spring, has always desired to become a doctor but chose nursing to be able to work in the medical field sooner.

“Nursing is a good profession,” Casas said.

Casas plans to work as an RN in a hospital trauma center in Lubbock, Dallas or Fort Worth and later become a mortician.