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Regional hospital and college adopt an accelerated program to boost workforce

nol_jan08_medres_page_16_image_0001.jpgA shortage of nurses following Hurricane Katrina continues to plague the local and regional health-care system. To address this growing problem, West Jefferson Medical Center and Our Lady of the Lake College began its first class of the Accelerated RN Program at West Jefferson Medical Center on Wednesday, January 9.

A press conference was held at West Jefferson Medical Center in the Fonseca Auditorium, along with a brief welcoming ceremony to greet some 40 student nurses entering the new accelerated program at West Jefferson. “We are very excited about this new collaborative,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive Theresa Anderson, RN, FACHE. This nursing program represents a culmination of the efforts of Our Lady of the Lake College and West Jefferson Medical Center to reap a positive from Katrina, something that will not only benefit the students and the hospital today, but will replenish our hospital’s workforce in the future.”

Students from varied baccalaureate backgrounds across several professions and industries comprise the Class of 2008. “We are very fortunate to have all of these individuals as students in our first Accelerated Nursing Program.

Each and every student will bring a unique set of skills and talents to this learning experience,” said Director of Nursing Anna Kokes. “Most importantly, all of the students are very passionate about a new career as a registered nurse,” she added. The program, created in part to address the growing nursing shortage following Hurricane Katrina and to decrease future dependence on agency nurses, allows college graduates with baccalaureate degrees and an interest in a nursing career to obtain their associate of science degree in nursing in nine and a half to 10 months. This is just a little more than half the time it takes to earn the traditional degree in nursing. Successful candidates will be eligible to sit for the RN Louisiana State Board of Nursing examination following the completion of the program.

“Educating future nurses is paramount to our mission at Our Lady of the Lake College and the accelerated Associate of Science Degree in Nursing program provides a wonderful opportunity for those individuals considering a second career,” said Melanie Green, dean of the Undergraduate School of Nursing at Our Lady of the Lake College. “Our Lady of the Lake College is committed to excellence in education and is excited to offer such a prestigious program in partnership with West Jefferson.”