Featured photo: Nursing students complete a cardiac simulation lab (Photo by Rich Keen, Marketing and Communications Dept.)
By Leigh Angel, MSN, RN
Dean of Health Sciences, Blue Ridge Community College
At Blue Ridge Community College, we are proud to serve over 500 students each year through our popular healthcare education programs. Upon successful completion of their course work and training, many Blue Ridge graduates gain employment as nurses, nurse aides, surgical technologists, and various healthcare support professionals with hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, health clinics and doctors’ offices in Henderson and Transylvania Counties.
In the last three years, Blue Ridge has responded to the growing need for healthcare workers by adding eleven new healthcare programs, many of which provide a fast-track option to efficiently put a student on a path to a promising new career. These new program offerings can lead to exciting careers as a nurse aide, medical assistant, behavioral health technician, central sterile processing technician, dialysis technician, EKG technician, pharmacy technician and more – many of which can be completed in less than a year.
Since its opening in 2016, the Health Sciences Center in Hendersonville has been the hub for Blue Ridge’s healthcare training. This state-of-the-art facility also includes the Hendersonville campus for Wingate’s Pharmacy and PA programs, as well as the Cancer Center and Surgical Associates offices for Pardee UNC Health Care. The synergy of having these three complementary partners in the same building has resulted in unlimited opportunities for learning and collaboration. Students enrolled at our Transylvania County Campus attend classes via synchronous distance learning.
Blue Ridge is continuing to strategically expand its programs. This includes a respiratory therapy program that will launch in Fall 2023, a Practical Nursing program planned for Spring 2024, and a larger RN program to support the growing demand in our region.
New respiratory therapy program
Blue Ridge is committed to helping meet the health care needs of our community. Currently, our area has a shortage of respiratory therapists (RTs), yet a growing need to care for an aging population. RTs also work with patients throughout their lifespan, from neonatal infants to older adults.
RTs are able to care for acute or chronic lung illness, as well as the lasting impacts from the effects of COVID-19. They also assess, treat, manage and educate patients and clients with lung injury/illness and cardiopulmonary diseases and are able to work with patients in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, as well as clients in the home care setting.
Blue Ridge will officially launch a respiratory therapy program in the Fall of 2023 on the Transylvania County Campus as a satellite location for Southwestern Community College. Graduates of this program will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree from Southwestern, transferable to four-year universities toward a bachelor’s degree.
Expanded nursing career pathways
Every person needs the care of a nurse at some point in their life, and it is essential that Blue Ridge Community College helps increase the number of nurses to care for our local population. To meet this need, Blue Ridge added 20 seats to our associate degree nursing program in 2022, and we plan to add a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) diploma program in Spring of 2024.
In varying degrees, both RNs and LPNs work directly with patients and are responsible for their care and well-being. Both are highly employable across a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, and more.
Graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing Program and the upcoming Practical Nursing program are eligible to apply to take the applicable National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is required for practice as a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse.
High quality instructors equates to high quality graduates
Blue Ridge’s nursing faculty are outstanding and highly skilled instructors. Our faculty hold master’s or doctoral degrees, and some hold nationally recognized specialty certifications in education and simulation. This results in successful students, and the first-time pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) was well above the national average at 93% for the Associate Degree Nursing class of 2022.
Enrollment in Blue Ridge’s healthcare programs
There are multiple entry points for a student interested in pursuing a healthcare related degree or certificate from Blue Ridge. Each healthcare program has unique admission or registration requirements and enrollment deadlines. And, programs like associate degree nursing, respiratory therapy, and licensed practical nursing have selective admission requirements and defined application periods.
For current high school students, Blue Ridge’s Career and College Promise programs provide tuition-free, dual enrollment programs to jump-start a career in healthcare by taking college courses while still in high school.
When in doubt about the pathway that’s right for you, we always recommend reaching out to speak to a member of our One Stop team by calling 828-694-1800. To learn more about Blue Ridge Community College’s healthcare offerings, visit blueridge.edu/healthcare or email email@example.com.