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CCP’S Nursing Program Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation, Excellence & Community Service

Community College of Philadelphia will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Nursing program this year by getting to the heart, literally, of what it means to be a nurse, caring for a community.

To mark this milestone, the College’s Nursing program has set the goal of teaching 1,000 people to do “hands only” CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with the hope of saving the lives of people stricken by heart attacks.  It has created a buzz on campus with faculty requesting that entire classes learn this technique.

“For me, it’s very personal that everyone learn CPR,” President Dr. Donald Guy Generals said, crediting Dr. Lisa Johnson, associate professor with the initiative. “It’s a simple process that can save lives.”

With a 50-year tradition of excellence, innovation and community service dating back to the program’s Class of 1968, the College has graduated more than 5,000 students from all walks and stages of life to be registered nurses, serving with knowledge, professionalism and compassion.  

To commemorate this important moment in the Nursing program’s history, nursing alumni, faculty and guests will gather from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 for a celebration at the Klein Cube in the Pavilion Building on 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill Streets. Guests will able to take tours of the College’s advanced labs and training facilities from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. before the festivities begin.

The Nursing Program is one of 15 in the country to be chosen as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing. The program is recognized for “Enhancing the Professional Development of Students." This is the College's fourth consecutive designation as a Center of Excellence.

 “The Centers of Excellence help raise the bar for all nursing programs by role modeling visionary leadership and environments of inclusive excellence that nurture the next generation of a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of the nation and the global community," NLN chief executive Beverly Malone, Ph.D., has noted.

Through the decades, the program has received widespread accolades for initiatives introducing nursing students to community-based service learning and geriatric care.

"Because of the diversity, our students get to meet a lot of people that look like the people they are going to be taking care of,” said Dr. Barbara McLaughlin, who heads the nursing department.  That allows the students to discuss social determinants of health -- the cultural and class norms that impact health care -- in class so they understand challenges their patients face in hospitals or in the community.

Approximately 42 percent of nursing students in a recent class were white; 33 percent African American; 9 percent Asian and 6.5 percent Hispanic. One in four students are male, compared to one in six nationally. Across the U.S., 9.9 percent of RNs are Black or African American (non-Hispanic); 8.3 percent are Asian; and 4.8 percent are Hispanic or Latino, according to Minority Nurse Magazine.

As part of their education, nursing students work in the surrounding neighborhood through the nationally known 19130 ZIP Code Project. Funded by the Independence Foundation, which is led by Chief Executive Officer and President Susan Sherman, the 19130 Project, named after the College's zip code, sends students into neighborhood schools where they conduct screenings and lead health classes. Students assist in health centers and clinics, including the Children's Crisis Treatment Center with its emphasis on trauma-informed care. The students gain valuable experience while learning how to foster relationships and communicate across language, cultural, racial, ethnic and gender barriers.

 Petrina McFarlane, an alumna who completed advanced degrees including a post-master’s degree in Nursing Education and joined the Nursing faculty, currently mentors students during their clinical rotations at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in West Philadelphia. She also works part-time at the hospital as a nurse, bringing experience to the classroom.

 "They are getting a robust education," McFarlane said of students, adding that area hospitals like having the College’s nursing students in their facilities. "They know we are very hands-on with our training," she said. Under supervision, students begin working with patients within a month of beginning their two years of training toward an associate degree in applied science.  The hard work pays off with nearly nine in ten nursing students passing their state licensure examinations on the first try, earning them the title of registered nurse and an opportunity to earn more than $50,000 a year to start. 

In 2016, the College has received a $350,000 Workforce Diversity Grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to launch a program providing second-year nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds an accelerated pathway to graduation. The primary objective of the grant, which ended this past summer, was to increase the pipeline of diverse nurses with bachelor’s degrees to area healthcare workplaces.

Together with the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium and West Chester University, the program provides participants with mentoring, accelerated coursework, financial support and the opportunity to take as many as nine additional credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

Additional information about the Nursing Program and its 50th Anniversary is available on the College’s website.