Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grossmont College nursing students pinned amid drive for 4-year degrees

Esther Sanchez speaks at the Grossmont College nursing
pinning ceremony held at Cuyamaca College
Thirty Grossmont College nursing students were welcomed into the profession in a traditional pinning ceremony on December 11, as efforts are underway in California to allow community colleges to grant four-year degrees in high-demand workforce fields such as nursing.

Associated degree nurses are registered nurses qualified to work in hospitals.  Once the associate degree graduates have passed their national licensure examination they will become registered nurses, and are qualified to work at hospitals.  However, not all positions will be open to them unless they go onto four-year colleges to obtain a bachelor of science-nursing degree. Many hospitals in metropolitan San Diego are magnet hospitals, which seeks to hire a certain percentage of their nursing staff with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“The community college movement toward technical baccalaureates is a practical cost-effective answer to critical workforce needs. We are eager to answer that call,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Debbie Yaddow, dean of Grossmont College’s nursing program, said that bachelor’s degree programs will enable the newly-minted nurses to expand their knowledge in such areas as community health, leadership and research.   However many public four-year colleges are already so heavily enrolled that they are unable to admit as many nursing students as are needed.  This forces students to more expensive private or for profit universities and higher student loan debt. 

Work is underway in California to examine and possibly adopt the practices in over 20 other states offering students the opportunity to earn a baccalaureate degree at their local community college in specific high demand workforce fields such as nursing.

For students who graduated on Wednesday from the two-year program, the evening was an important way-station in their nursing careers.  Nursing student Sarah Wingo, addressing the audience at the ceremony, quoted from the book Streams in The Desert by L.B. Cowman, saying it “mirrors my feelings about the nursing school experience beautifully.”

“Around the turn of the twentieth century, a bar of steel was worth about $5. Yet… …when forged into horseshoes, it was worth $10
…when made into needles, its value was $350
…when used to make small pocketknife blades, its worth was $32,000
…when made into springs for watches, its value increased to $250,000.”

“What a pounding the steel bar had to endure to be worth this much! But the more it was…shaped, hammered, put through fire, beaten, pounded, and polished…the greater its value.”

After thanking the nursing faculty for metaphorically beating, pounding and polishing their students, Wingo said, “As difficult as our days may become, it is our patients who are in a vulnerable position and it is our duty to ensure that they receive safe and compassionate care. So thank you, professors, for giving us the skills, strength, and knowledge to be able to do so.”

The joy and light-heartedness students felt during their pinning ceremony was reflected by student Esther Sanchez.  She said no one in the class would forget having a patient saying “Thank you for everything you have done today!”