I have been a nurse for over 40 years. Yes, thanks for noticing, I must have graduated when I was 12! But seriously, I completed my associate degree in nursing (ADN), my RN degree, at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in 1980. It was the most rigorous and most rewarding of my four degrees in nursing. I remember wanting to be a nurse as far back as fourth grade.
Since completing my ADN, I have earned my BSN, MSN and Ph.D. in nursing. I have completed these additional degrees in nursing because when I was at LLCC completing my RN degree, I made the decision that I was going to come back to the LLCC ADN program and teach nursing. I did just that, eight years, a husband and two children later in 1988 after completion of my MSN which is required to teach. I have been at LLCC since that time as faculty, administration in the nursing programs, and now as the dean of health professions.
The reason I think my introduction and pathway are important to explain is that, within the health professions department, I am not alone. Many of my colleagues, faculty and administrators, in the various health profession disciplines within the department, have followed my same pathway – working in the clinical setting, gaining the appropriate clinical experience and academic credentials, and then moving into education to prepare future health care professionals in the professions that they love at a college that they love.
I know, isn’t love a strong word? An exaggeration? Not in the health professions. Health care professionals serve their patients and communities with compassion, care and love. I am hoping this has become evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite any and all challenges, health care providers continued to show up, work hard and care for our patients. At the college, we adapted within the health care programs to continue to provide the programs of study while meeting all COVID restrictions. We worked with our health care partners to figure out the safest and most expedient ways to resume the clinical practice learning experiences when safe. These clinical learning experiences are an integral part of all of the health care programs.
To support my thesis that others who teach within the health professions department at LLCC are alumni, I sent out an email asking who had graduated from LLCC in the discipline in which they teach. I got a lot of emails in response! The majority of the health professions programs, all but the newest programs being offered, have at least one and usually more faculty members who obtained their entry-level education in their chosen discipline from LLCC. The year of graduation ranged from 1980 to as recently as 2012. I also received emails from faculty members who indicated that they took their general education coursework at LLCC prior to earning their health care degree elsewhere. LLCC is a great value and a great place to start.
There is a great variety of programs in the health professions department: nursing, of course, including RN, LPN, LPN to RN, and CNA, but also neurodiagnostic technology, providing key information in the diagnosis of brain disorders; diagnostic medical sonography, ultrasound; emergency medical services including fire science; respiratory care, respiratory system disease and disorder care; surgical technology, with individuals integral to the operating team; occupational therapy assistant, helping patients regain their independence; radiography, x-rays; central sterile service technician, ensuring sterile medical equipment; exercise and sports science, often referred to as kinesiology; and medical coding, converting medical services into codes. In addition, our LLCC-Medical District facility offers programs in CNA to medical assistant, dental assistant, ECG technician, massage therapy, medical assistant, personal trainer, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy technician and veterinary assistant. With so many options, there is a program for anyone interested in the health professions.
Another benefit to earning a degree or certificate in a health profession is that it offers opportunities for advancement and portability; you can take it with you into your future wherever it may lead you. You can also use it if you choose to come back to LLCC to teach the next generation of health care professionals, as so many of us have.