LSCPA nursing grads earn statewide monetary award

    For doing its part to reduce the shortage of nurses in Texas, Lamar State College Port Arthur has won a $52,000 award from the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board.

    LSCPA graduated 26 more nurses from its Upward Mobility Nursing program in 2017 than the year before, earning the third-largest award given to the 18 two-year colleges that applied.

    “By 2030, we’ll be looking at a shortage of about 60,000 registered nurses in Texas, so the state wants to address it by supporting nursing programs and encouraging them to be innovative to increase their enrollment,” said Shirley MacNeill, Chair, Allied Health Department at LSCPA.

    While no determination has been made as to where the funds from the award will be directed, MacNeill said two ideas in play are tutoring efforts to reduce program attrition and further development of the school’s high-fidelity patient simulation lab.

    The use of computerized mannequins (also called manikins) has been shown to increase students’ self-confidence while teaching them to save lives in a wide range of settings.

    “The simulators talk, breathe, blink their eyes,” MacNeill said. “You can draw fluids from them. The goal is to make it as real as possible.”

    The Upward Mobility Nursing Program at Lamar State College Port Arthur allows licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to attain the Associate of Applied Sciences degree and prepares graduates for the licensing exam to become a registered nurse (RN).

    “A lot of acute care facilities now want an RN instead of an LVN,” MacNeill said. “They want LVNs to continue their education and go on to become RNs.

    “Our Associate Degree Nursing program can be a stepping stone to a four-year degree, all the way from LVN to RN BSN.”

    In all, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board awarded approximately $3.3 million to 35 institutions through its Nursing Shortage Reduction Program for Fiscal Year 2018.

    Reports show that only 13 percent of hospitals surveyed in 2016 had an adequate supply of nursing personnel, but that was better than long-term care facilities where only 8 percent were adequately staffed.

    The numbers were slightly better for 2015 surveys of home health and hospice providers – 46 percent had adequate nursing staffing – and government public health providers – 41 percent.

    A map predicting the unmet need for registered nurses in 2030 shows nearly 25 percent of the 60,000 unfilled RN jobs are expected to be on the Texas Gulf Coast, an area reaching from Victoria to Orange.

    “A big factor is the aging of the workforce,” MacNeill said. “We have such a large number of Baby Boomers who are nursing. They’re facing retirements.”

    Young adults, especially women, have more opportunities in the workforce than those who went into nursing in past years.

    “Now look at the career fields for young people,” MacNeill said. “There’s so much more they can do [other than nursing.]

    “But there are also so many different nursing specialties people can go into.

    “You can go from medical-surgical nursing to specialties like babies to orthopedics to teaching. As you grow, there are ways to make those changes and keep things new.”

    The LSCPA Allied Health Department has expanded its number of available positions in many of its programs, including vocational nursing and LVN to ADN Upward Mobility. Spring 2018 registration is already underway. Those interested in Allied Health offerings at LSCPA, which also includes Surgical Technology and Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counseling programs, can find more information at www.lamarpa.edu.