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Cape Coral Technical College Practical Nurse program ranked first in Florida

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jun 30, 2022

Cape Coral Technical College graduates are making a difference in the community by spreading the compassion and knowledge they received during their year-long Practical Nursing program that was recently ranked first in Florida.

“Our teachers have very high standards and they have created a long-standing culture of professionalism, integrity, and excellence,” Cape Coral Technical College Director Charlie Peace said in a prepared statement.

The ranking, in which CCTC placed second last year for the program, was made by www.nursingprocess.org. That ranking was based on three factors: 40 percent of overall score of NCLEX-PN first-time pass rates of recent five years; 30 percent of overall score of academic quality (enrollment rate, graduation rate and retention rate) and 30 percent of overall score of nursingprocess.org editorial staff ratings and nursing school reputation.

Health Science Programs Department Chair Candy Shearer said the pass rates are based on the national certification, a standardized test that is given throughout the country to all students who want to become a licensed practical nurse. She said for six of the past 14 years the pass rate was 100 percent.

The graduation rate category has an average of 75 percent who start and graduate from the program.

“Nursing is a hard program just like any other medical program,” Shearer said.

As far as reputation, the Practical Nursing program, which began in 2003, has a great one in the community.

“Our students have 100 percent placement in terms of jobs. Our students are desired when they graduate,” Shearer said.

The program is 12 months for full-time students, and two years for part-time students with a cost of $7,100. For full-time students, class starts at 8 a.m. and runs until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, while part-time students attend class on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Each year anywhere between 24 to 36 students graduate from the program.

“This program has truly changed my life in the best possible way,” Practical Nursing student Nick Testoni said in a prepared statement. “Not only by providing an amazing pathway to start my career in healthcare, but by giving me all the resources I could ever need to succeed and thrive. It’s difficult to explain how amazing I think Cape Coral Tech is and how much it has impacted my life. Easily one of the best choices I’ve made in my life! After starting my career as an LPN I hope to continue my education and one day become a nurse anesthetist.”

Students are chosen through a selection process for the program. The process includes an entrance test, application and an orientation. The top students are chosen from the entrance test.

The program is comprised of 50 percent clinicals and 50 percent classroom work. The clinicals are done at Cape Coral Hospital, HealthPark, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Shell Point and Cypress Cove. Other facilities had to be put on hold due to COVID restrictions.

“We are looking at some other opportunities that have been put on the back burner because of COVID,” Shearer said.

Students are taught to be flexible during the program as things are constantly changing.

“You have to respond to what is the priority,” she said.

The classroom consists of lectures and learning opportunities, activities stemming from what they learned, as well as working on reports, case scenarios that they have to talk about and dissect. Some of the hand-on practice might include learning how to do special skills, medication, vital signs and CPR.

The clinicals run from about 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., which all depend on the availability of the clinical sites. The students take care of patients, whatever they are in need of — bathing, medications, dressing changes — all while working with staff at the facility and the instructor.

“We are a hidden gem. We have excellent programs here. The prices are very reasonable,” Shearer said.

Shearer, who has been a nurse for 46 years, has been part of the campus for 18 years, 13 as a department director.

“To be a nurse is the most rewarding career. There are so many job opportunities for students,” she said, adding there are so many different paths one can take while furthering their education. “We may have students doing medical assisting and then they decide they really want more. (They go into) practical nursing and they go on to become a registered nurse and then nurse practitioner. Some of the graduates are out in the community that are working and making such a difference in health care. We want the students to be compassionate and put patients first. We hope we are inspiring our students to be the best they can be.”

Shearer said although she has done a lot of nursing, she really loves the education aspect the best as she can inspire other people to join the profession.

“I love my job. I love seeing the students. This is such a big life-saving moment,” she said, adding it opens up so many other doors and opportunities for students and their families. “We have a great group of instructors here. It certainly is a group effort in excellence. That is what we are all striving for.”

There are four instructors, including Shearer, as well as part-time adjunct staff which contributes a great deal to the program.

The next full-time Practical Nursing program begins on Oct. 3 with all application requirements due by Aug. 8.

For more information, visit https://capecoraltech.edu/course/practical-nursing-pn-full-time-part-time/.

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