Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s new nursing model will not negatively affect area nursing programs, school officials say. In fact, a spokesperson at one local college says the change could attract more students to its program.
Last week, RMH announced it is moving to an acute-nursing model centered on registered nurses in its inpatient and emergency departments. Under the new configuration, licensed practical nurses will no longer work in those departments, Donna Hahn, vice president of acute care services and chief nursing executive of RMH, previously said.
RMH will implement the new structure, which hospital officials say will improve efficiency and patient outcomes. The 50 or so LPNs working in the inpatient and emergency departments have until that time to either pursue their RN licenses or move to another part of the hospital, Hahn has said.
LPN Jobs Plentiful
While the change will mean fewer LPNs at RMH, officials with Massanutten Technical Center say the change will not impair the center’s nursing program. MTC offers a two-year nursing program for high school seniors and adults. Graduates of the program are qualified to take the state LPN licensure examination.
Sandy Rinker, assistant director for continuing education at MTC, said that despite the change at RMH, the center would continue to have nursing clinicals at the hospital. “I don’t think this is going to be hurtful to our program,” she said. “We are still going to have a very good connection with RMH.”
Rinker said she also expects MTC students will continue to find LPN jobs as most graduates who go straight into the work force are employed in area doctor’s offices and long-term care facilities, not the hospital. “The students are still going to have good employment opportunities,” she said. RMH is “just one place for them to gain employment.”
MTC Director Marshall Price said he thinks LPNs will have no problem findings jobs as they are always needed in other areas of health care.
“The future will tell us, but I still think there’s going to be a good demand in our community and all communities for LPNs,” Price said. “I think we’re going to be fine.” MTC officials say they will monitor the situation and may add a RN component to the center’s program, should it become necessary.
“I don’t want you to think this is not a concern,” Rinker said. “We’ve had many calls from students. … I think [the announcement] was a little bit of a shock to [them].”
BRCC Program May Grow
At Blue Ridge Community College, officials suspect that, at least in the immediate future, the hospital’s new model will bring more students to its program.BRCC’s nursing program includes LPNs and people who have no nursing experience who want to become RNs.
Some graduates go right into the work force after completing the program, while others go on to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s of science in nursing. Hara Charlier, academic dean for life sciences and human services at BRCC, said the college is partnering with RMH to help the LPNs affected by the change decide whether they want to pursue RN licenses.
BRCC representatives will visit the hospital next week to make a presentation to LPNs interested in becoming RNs and answer their questions, Charlier said.
Debra Thompson, director of corporate communications at RMH, said of the LPNs currently working in the inpatient and emergency departments, about 30 are interested in becoming RNs.
“We’re very honored RMH contacted us,” Charlier said. “We’re really just trying to get information out to the students.”
BRCC’s nursing program typically accepts 20 LPNs each year, but with the change at the hospital, the program may include as many as 10 more slots this coming school year, Charlier said. Beyond this coming school year, the college will consider whether it needs to permanently expand its nursing program, she said. “We are always committed to responding to the community’s needs,” Charlier said. “We’re really excited about working with [RMH].” No one could be reached for comment at James Madison University to discuss the impact RMH’s new nursing model would have on its program. (source)