South Louisiana Community College’s planned LPN to RN program is one step closer to reality.
Today, SLCC received acceptance to move forward with a proposal for a new LPN to RN program. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing granted the acceptance today and will receive the college’s full proposal at its April 18 board meeting.
SLCC plans to house this program at it’s T.H. Harris Campus in Opelousas to address the local nursing shortage.
“Our Opelousas campus has a long history of graduating practical nursing students that have been gainfully employed in St. Landry Parish and beyond,” said Dr. Rebecca Harris-Smith, SLCC Dean of Nursing and Allied Health. “We feel these graduates have the knowledge base and experience to successfully complete a program – like we’re proposing – in a shorter time frame than a traditional RN program.”
The development of this program benefits the community in a number of ways including: allowing LPNs an opportunity to become an RN more quickly, providing students the ability to continue working while completing the program, and building upon the skills graduates already possess as nurses.
“Training a skilled workforce for healthcare across our region is a priority and part of our mission at SLCC,” said Dr. Natalie Harder, Chancellor. “This program would be a win-win for our students and alumni and our region as more RNs enter the healthcare workforce.”
A shortage of registered nurses is looming as baby boomers enter retirement. The U.S. Bureau of Labor projects the need for nearly 650,000 replacement nurses in the workforce bringing the total number of job openings for nurses to 1.09 million in 2024.
The college has several partners for this program including: Opelousas General Health System, St. Landry Economic Development, City of Opelousas, and the William C. Schumacher Foundation. State Representative Dustin Miller has also been actively encouraging the college to move as quickly as possible to bring an LPN to RN program to St. Landry Parish.
The college received full approval for its traditional RN program from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing in 2017 and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The college’s LPN to RN program will have to adhere to ACEN guidelines.
The first cohort of RNs from the Lafayette Campus began in Fall 2014 and graduated in Spring 2016. The most recent graduating class completed the NCLEX licensing exam with a 100% passage rate. The national average is 84.6%, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
“We are incredibly proud of the quality of our Registered Nursing program,” said Harris-Smith. “Students are getting job offers before graduation or immediately after. With a local average annual wage $57,693 for registered nurses, the growth will stimulate workforce and economic development in Acadiana.”
The college’s Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program is a 2-year (4-semester) program. Candidates to the program must have completed 16 hours of pre-requisite courses prior to admission into the RN program. A total of 40 students are accepted into new RN classes.
The original RN program at SLCC spurred from local industry demand in healthcare and a desire for an increased pipeline of qualified RNs. Growth in registered nurses in Acadiana is expected to grow 18% by 2024, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
In 2013, Acadiana’s three major hospital systems (Lafayette General Health, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, and Women’s and Children’s Hospital) and Lafayette Economic Development Authority collectively invested $500,000 to establish a Registered Nursing program at SLCC.