Preparing nurses for the future

PCC constantly gauges the needs of the community in order to provide our constituents with the most effective programs and services. Toward that end, in a recent study session, the Governing Board and I met a group of local hospital administrators and educators to discuss trends in nursing. West Campus President Dr. Louis Albert organized and guided what turned out to be a most illuminating discussion.

Nursing is one of many health-related professions programs headquartered at West Campus.  Students in our Associate of Applied Science degree program receive a comprehensive education with plenty of practical experience that prepares them to become licensed as a registered nurse. The hospital administrators all agreed that our nursing students receive a solid education that enables them to be productive members of the hospital team. The key to success for any new nurse is attitude and motivation, they said.

The hospital environment, we were told, is becoming increasingly complex. Hospitals treat more patients who are acutely ill and more who have chronic ailments. Today’s nurses must be able to solve problems quickly, properly prioritize management of care of multiple patients, work as part of a multilayered team, and communicate effectively with patients and their loved ones about a variety of medical and social issues. These soft skills are in demand throughout the business world, and the College recognizes the need to deliver graduates who possess emotional intelligence and a well-developed ability to think critically.

Looking ahead, hospitals are increasingly expecting new nurses to have earned bachelor’s degrees. The College is aware of this trend and has responded with a concurrent enrollment initiative with Northern Arizona University. Students selected for this program can simultaneously earn an associates in applied science from PCC and a bachelor of science in nursing from NAU. The College should explore expanding the concurrent enrollment program at NAU, and should reach out to our other partners in higher education to collaborate on similar initiatives. These programs offer our students an affordable pathway to achieving what is evolving into a professional standard.

Our nursing and other health-related professions programs have always reflected what is best in Tucson and Pima County. Working together with our community partners, we are committed to producing work-ready nurses who can contribute to the economic and overall health of our region.

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