Nursing students at Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center claim an unusual designation: They attend the only school in the state to have 100 percent of each graduating class pass the national license exam, otherwise known as boards, four out of the past five years. That tops 39 other licensed practical nursing programs in Missouri.
The one year they missed perfection was 1999, when 95.5 percent passed.
Because of the program's tremendous success and an increasing interest in nursing, the school had to expand its program to include night school for students who work full time at other jobs. The new classes begin Oct. 1.
"Our performance is exceptional," said Rich Payne, assistant director of the CTC. "It shows the consistency of our program. It's rigorous and it's a tough year, but the students and instructors do a fine job."
In the spring last year, Carol Kranawetter asked the Missouri Board of Nursing to allow the CTC to offer a two-year program. In January, it said yes.
"We've had a whole lot of people tell us they would like to go to school, but they just can't quit their jobs," said Kranawetter, the school's nursing department coordinator.
LPNs are entry-level nurses who care for patients by checking vital signs and working with intravenous fluids. They offer comfort to patients in doctor's offices, nursing homes, home health agencies and hospitals.
Keeping day jobs
Kranawetter said the evening classes will run from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, allowing students to keep their day jobs and also have time for class.
"It will be the very same program that we currently have, only what we cover in one week during the day we will cover over two weeks in the evening," Kranawetter said.
Some students who quit their jobs to go to school say they expect the evening program to be a big success.
Chris Foster, of Dexter, Mo., enrolled in the nursing program in October after working as a police officer for four years.
"I got married and my wife went back to work so I could go back to school," he said. "I think the evening program will work for a lot of people."
Irena Scienski, who is also in the program, said she thinks a lot of people will take advantage of the program, but she's glad there will still be the option of a one-year program.
"What made me decide to go to school at the career center was that the program was only a year long," Scienski said. "I worked for a printing company in California for 12 years, and when I moved here, I decided to change my career. I wanted to do it quickly, so one year was perfect for me."
Nursing instructor Sandy Schnicker said she was excited about the new classes.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for employees who can't afford to lose their benefits, and a wonderful opportunity for the profession to gain more nurses," Schnicker said.
During the first half of the program, students learn the fundamentals of the profession in classes like anatomy, nutrition and mental health concepts. The second half of the program is spent in clinical settings.
"All of the students rotate between St. Francis and Southeast hospitals," Schnicker said. "The best preparation they receive is through their time in the hospitals. It makes sense to them to see the things they have been reading about in books and learning in class."
Students also spend time at the Lutheran Home in Cape Girardeau during the second half of the program.
"It's in the nursing homes and hospitals that the students really get their core of learning," Schnicker said. "They get to see how the disease process works."
Southeast Missouri State University does not offer a licensed practical nurse program, but nurses with their LPN degrees can attend the university for further study.
"A lot of the students have a goal to continue education when they are finished here," Kranawetter said. "A few go on to Southeast and some go to Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing, but a lot are perfectly happy working as an LPN."
The students who begin night classes in October will graduate in September 2004.
The Missouri Board of Nursing mandates the number of students who are allowed to enroll in the program. In the fall, 14 students will be allowed in the first two-year program. The school can petition the board for higher quotas each year after those students graduate. The quota for the day program is 27.
Kranawetter said enrollment is ongoing and only closes when the classes become full.
335-6611 extension 128