College’s LPN Program in Rolla Helping Answer the Call
When East Central College officially took the reins of its Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program in Rolla this fall, the LPN program already had been serving the community and healthcare system for 55 years, while graduating over 1,250 new nurses.
Today, the need for trained healthcare professionals is as great as it has ever been.
That’s according to Michelle Chick, ECC Rolla’s LPN program director, who said that turnover and vacancy rates are at an all-time high among healthcare professions across the state.
“The majority of our graduates seek employment in this area; therefore, program sustainment is imperative to help with this nursing shortage,” she said. “We need a pipeline of LPN graduates to help meet the growing demands in our area.”
ECC took sponsorship of the LPN program for the Rolla School District in October 2021 so the school district could focus its resources on K-12 education. The Fall 2022 semester was the first under ECC.
The program is three semesters over 11 months, and it includes a clinical experience. Once students complete the program, they earn a certificate of graduation and are qualified to take the national licensure examination (NCLEX-PN).
After passing the exam, graduates can begin earning higher wages and taking on new challenges and responsibilities.
LPN program student Claude Wyatt, 51, had been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for several years.
“I absolutely love health care. I worked 16 years as a CNA performing caregiving duties,” he said. “Working under wonderful nurses made me want to step up my care to the next level.”
Today, Wyatt does custodial work, but he never lost his love for the medical field.
“This program finally allowed me to pursue my dream of being a nurse and returning to health care,” he said, encouraging other adult learners to pursue LPN certification.
“I am living proof of how life can get in the way, but don’t give up,” Wyatt added. “Your brain is never too old to learn.”
For Monique Matos, becoming an LPN is a way to better her life and that of her children.
“As a single parent, my kids are my biggest motivation and I want to prove that no matter where life takes you, your goals are always possible with hard work and dedication,” Matos said. “I have always worked in health care and have had a passion for helping others. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in the way someone receives care, and I know I can as an LPN.”
In fact, she already is aware of how the program helped her in her current position as a Medication Aide at The Gingerbread House, in Rolla.
“I am becoming more organized, professional, and confident as a student nurse,” she noted. “Also, I can already see a change in my resident care at work.”
Matos is a first-generation college student and the second in her family to graduate high school.
“I am so grateful for this experience,” she commented. “Before I was living day-to-day but now, I can honestly say that I am excited to see what the future has in store for me.”
Heath Care Partners
Jessica Fischer, LPN instructor and clinical coordinator, and Chick both value their clinical partnerships at area hospitals, long-term care facilities and outpatient clinics. They are aware that these facilities need resilient nurses who are ready to accept the challenging environment of health care.
“The unprecedented stressors placed on all health care professionals, not just nurses, during the pandemic has caused an impact on morale and has caused a major toll on nurses,” Fischer said.
That’s why the LPN program also focuses on stress management, she added.
“As nursing educators, we are working on teaching students how to manage and deal with the stressors of the health care environment they will face, Fischer commented. “Teaching students how to mitigate stress, adapt positively, and develop the ability to recover and overcome difficult situations.”
For more information on the LPN program, visit https://www.eastcentral.edu/allied-health/licensed-practical-nursing/ or contact Nancy Mitchell, dean of health science, at Nancy.Mitchell@eastcentral.edu or 636-584-6619.