Columbia College’s nursing program has evolved in remarkable fashion over the past four years. One might say the program is awash in success with a state-of-the art facility, cutting-edge technology and perfect pass rates on the NCLEX exam. And while the program is enjoying a great run, it has faced some challenges along the way.
Linda Claycomb, nursing instructor and chair of Columbia College’s nursing program, arrived at the college in 2008. Soon after her arrival, Claycomb found that a shift was occurring in the college’s nursing student population.
“We no longer had LPNs (licensed practical nurse) or students with prior nursing experience, which really demanded a different curriculum,” Claycomb says.
Constrained by a shortage of time and resources, the program struggled to adjust to this change. Common issues included the lack of clinical space, adequate staffing and access to advanced technology. Recognizing a change had to be made to help the program take the next step, the college moved the nursing program into Federal Hall, located in the heart of downtown Columbia.
The move significantly enhanced the program’s instructional capabilities. With a larger space and more technology, Claycomb and the nursing faculty were able to make changes to improve their curriculum.
“It was a great move for us, because it gave us an opportunity to design something we felt would work for the students,” Claycomb says.
With the move, the program also addressed issues regarding accreditation and licensure. By establishing the Columbia College Nursing Network (CCNN), an interactive audio-visual conferencing tool connecting learners at the main campus with students at Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks, the program creatively addressed a shortage of qualified instructors. Over time, the faculty found that test scores between the two campuses were strikingly similar, validating CCNN as an effective tool to educate students and address staffing issues.
“We’ve made it work exceptionally well,” Claycomb says. “To us, it shows that we’re delivering a stable curriculum.”
While the nursing program has experienced what Claycomb calls “growing pains,” it certainly is on solid footing now. This past fall, the college rolled out a bachelor of nursing for its online students; work also is underway to provide a bachelor of nursing to day students in 2016. And with the space and learning opportunities the Brouder Science Center provides, the future looks bright for the nursing program.