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Central’s Nursing Program Sees New Changes

by Kelly Langevin

Central Connecticut’s nursing department proved to have a brand-new future ahead of them after a ribbon-cutting event took place displaying new offices, facilities and more for the students.

Taking place on April 11, President Dr. Zulma Toro was the initiator for the new simulation laboratories and their move to Copernicus Hall. Dr. Toro toured the previous lab and one of the simulation rooms in January 2017 and was able to identify funding for the project.

Now, there are six “simulation rooms” based on various specialty areas in healthcare, which include a pediatric, maternity, homecare and intensive care unit, as well as an emergency department and an operating suite. Simulation rooms offer students the opportunity to participate in different scenarios.

“One scenario a student might participate in is where the junior age manikin is experiencing an exacerbation of asthma. [Students would] go through how to assess the [mannequin], carry out nursing interventions, provide support and teaching to the patient and family member,” Assistant Professor Catherine Thomas said.

In addition, there are also health assessment and foundation laboratories, along with debriefing conference rooms, which nursing students did not get to experience before.

There are many courses offered for nursing students.

“I teach in all three nursing programs delivered at Central. These are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the Registered Nurse to BSN program, and the Masters in Nursing in Hospice and Palliative Care,” Assistant Professor and MSN Coordinator Leona Konieczny said.

The BSN program prepares students for entry into professional nursing practice. Students graduate with a Bachelors Degree and are prepared to take the RN-NCLEX, a national examination. Passing this exam is required for licensure as a RN.

The RN to BSN program is the first nursing program at Central. It prepares RNs, usually with an Associate Degree in Nursing, to advance their education. Most healthcare facilities require RNs to have a BSN.

The MSN in Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing is the only one in the state of Connecticut and one of a handful in the country. This program is for baccalaureate degree nurses who want to improve the care of patients and advance their nursing career.

The new space has attracted more students, and more have been accepted into the program.

“With this new space, this year the number of students accepted increased from our previous 50 students per admission cohort [which is a typical approach is application during freshman year] starting classes at sophomore year level [as they take nursing classes for 3 years] to a total of 60 students. We very much believe that the new space will be a powerful recruitment tool,” Thomas said.

The new facilities are helping to meet the needs of the community and its students, according to Konieczny.

“The new department space and laboratories will allow us to increase student capacity so we can meet the demand of the applicants,” Konieczny said. “Because RNs over the age of 50 years is the largest percentage of the nursing workforce, upcoming retirements are anticipated bringing about a shortage of nurses in the state of the country.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for the nurses is expected to increase by another 15 percent in the next eight years.