BCC nursing program named tops in the state

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By Sam Hickman

 Brunswick Community College has lots to offer, but one program has been recognized as the Tar Heel State’s best.


The institution’s Licensed Practical Nursing program has been ranked No. 1 in North Carolina by PracticalNursing.org.

Led by program director Tanya Mace and nursing instructor Shaylene Ball, the group has a 100 percent pass rate on the State Board of Nursing exam for the last six years.

The Practical Nursing curriculum prepares students to provide nursing care to children and adults.

“This program takes students and turns them into amazing nurses,” nursing student Mariah Shepherd said. “That is something the Brunswick community should be proud of.”

Shepherd said some of her classmates live 10 minutes away from other community colleges, but they choose to attend BCC because of the program’s reputation.

“I have a classmate who works at the hospital in Jacksonville, but she drives every day here for class,” she said.

The students attend class Mondays through Thursdays and complete their course requirements in the 10-month program.

She praised her instructors for their dedication to the college.

“They work long hours teaching us and helping us through clinicals,” she said. “They all could make more income working some place else but each has chosen to be a part of something so special.”

It’s no surprise BCC has a sparkling pass rate, Shepherd said.

“The program is organized,” she said. “The teachers will not leave until they make sure you know what you’re doing. They’re amazing; they stay after school all the time to help in any way they can. Between the instructors, they have more than 200 years of nursing experience.”

Mace said she was floored when she heard the news of being named No. 1.

“My administrative assistant told me to check my email,” Mace said. “I opened it up and saw the news. I was floored.”

Mace said the credit goes to her staff and the students.

“Without their hard work, our program wouldn’t be where it is today,” she said. “This is a rigorous program. But these students know if they put in the work, we’ll work with them and do whatever we can to help them become successful.”

Students participate in assessment, planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care.

Graduates of the program are eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), which is required for practice as a licensed practical nurse. Employment opportunities exist at hospitals, rehabilitation/long term care/home health facilities, clinics, and physicians’ offices.

To meet a growing demand for nurses, people can apply for a licensed practical nurse (LPN) license in the state by completing coursework and taking an exam or by endorsement. North Carolina is also part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows nurses from other NLC states to practice nursing in the state without additional licensure. By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that LPN jobs will increase by 10 percent per year in North Carolina.

Southeastern Community College in Whiteville is ranked sixth, while Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington is ranked eighth.

Thirty-seven schools in the Tar Heel State were analyzed and ranked by PracticalNursing.org, which is designed to give students better transparency with regard to practical and vocational nursing programs throughout their state to match them with right school most accessible to them. The organization has developed its LPN & LVN Programs Ranking based on NCLEX-PN exam passing rates.

The NCLEX-PN exam is used by state boards of nursing around the country for testing proficiency and granting licensure. Many state boards of nursing use the combined NCLEX-PN exam pass rates for each school as one of the primary ways to approve or deny a school’s ability to provide practical and vocational nursing education. As can be seen, NCLEX-PN rates is one of the best ways to determine how well a school is preparing its students for a career in practical nursing.

Pass rates were analyzed going back to the most recent years of data available up to five years.

Schools pass rates were averaged together and weighted by the timing of the exam. For example, pass rates in 2013 count more toward overall rankings than scores from 2010.

If schools had the same overall NCLEX-PN pass rates after being ranked, additional program characteristics were then analyzed, including number of students taking the NCLEX-PN, with the higher the number the greater the ranking position, and number of years of test data available, with the schools having more years of NCLEX-PN pass rate data being ranked higher.

Having been a certified nursing assistant for more than nine years, Shepherd turned to BCC’s licensed practical nursing program. And she couldn’t be happier with her decision.

“I have to tell you, it’s absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The teachers, the program —they’re amazing.”

Mace deflected the praise.

“It’s all about out students. They step up to the plate time and time again, and they always knock it out of the park.”

For more information about the practical nursing program at BCC, go to www.brunswickcc.edu or call program director Tanya Mace at 755-7350.


Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.