Submitted to the Optic
The Luna Community College Nursing Program learned late last month that it has earned national accreditation by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. It is the first time in the program’s history that it has this distinction.
Luna Community College nursing graduates can now apply for employment at any health facility including government hospitals.
They have not been eligible for VA hospitals or the like prior to this time. There are also institutions of higher learning that do not accept RN-BSN students from an unaccredited program. All of these barriers have been removed.
“This is a great step forward for Luna Community College,” said LCC Nursing Director Conni Reichert. “Being nationally accredited helps our community by ensuring that our program trains quality nurses and in turn provides for better patient care. It also helps our nursing program to have equal status in nursing representation by showing that the program has both quality and rigor and helps the students to be able to have all nursing opportunities open to them, whether it is in education or in employment.”
The accreditation is retroactive to January of this year, therefore, the 50 LCC nursing graduates this past May fall under the nationally accredited program.
“This has been quite an endeavor by the department,” said Reichert. “I put the accreditation process on the top of my priority list when I became director in September of 2006. We as a faculty initially worked on the process of accreditation by attending the self study forum and writing the candidacy report which was approved March 2009.”
After candidacy status was achieved, faculty contributed in the writing of the self study document in theory; however, most work was done in the year of 2010. During the spring of 2010 all faculty members were assigned their sections to write of the document and then others would review.
“When we did the standard 6 evaluation piece (outcomes), faculty members were assigned other sections that they hadn’t been assigned to prior,” said Reichert. “We met as a faculty every other week to go over the document during the fall of 2010 semester. Then in early spring of 2011, we all reviewed everything and met more frequently including the Saturday before the site visit so all of the questions that we anticipated had answers fresh on our minds. We had a reviewer that helped guide us in the fall of 2010. Our self study document with appendices was 168 pages.”
The board of commissioners’ next evaluation visit is for spring of 2016.
“Many things happened during this process,” said Reichert. “We were able to articulate all aspects of our nursing program and to look at assessment evaluation pieces necessary to improve student outcomes as a faculty. The process also helped to develop a team in having such a grand project to accomplish as a group. We also found deficiencies in our program that we were able to correct to meet standards—all as a part of the process. We got all of our documentation organized. The site visitors that were on campus February 15-17 were exacting in their requirements and complemented our team on our organization and thorough documentation. Our allied health staff did so much for the process as well as faculty. We are indebted to everyone in the department. Accreditation was an arduous process and took thousands of hours all totaled but today upon hearing of the outcome, it has been worth it.”
Luna Community College has graduated LPN and RN nurses to now reach an average of 70 nurses annually—the majority of them work in New Mexico hospitals. A typical week for a nursing student at Luna Community College includes two clinical days, two days of class work (one class in the morning and one in the afternoon) and one day off, which is widely used for studying.
“If you are a nursing student, you have to study; if you party, you’re not going to make it,” says Reichert.
A typical clinical day has an 8-1 nurse to student nurse ratio. At Luna Community College, faculty doesn’t just stress the theory and practical aspects of nursing, they advise students to care about the patient.
“It’s important that nurses have warmth and concern,” said Reichert. “The best nurse cares for their patient with compassion and understanding.”
The college’s licensed practical nursing program (LPN) had its first graduates in 1970. The registered nursing program (RN) began in 1978.
“Personally, I think that the LCC nursing program is an excellent program,” said Reichert. “I feel that we are implementing quality education both in the classroom and in the health facilities where our students do their clinicals. We thank the community for that. With accreditation, we have helped our students tremendously in their own pursuits.”
The majority of Luna Community College students are from northeastern New Mexico.