Western Nevada College to restore nursing classes at Fallon campus

Nursing students work in the lab at Western Nevada College in Carson City in 2015.

Nursing students work in the lab at Western Nevada College in Carson City in 2015.

A strong desire at Western Nevada College to restore nursing classes at the Fallon campus is coming to fruition, thanks to a partnership between Churchill County, the U.S. Department of Labor and the college.

The partnership with Churchill County provides WNC with the use of a 2,500-square-foot laboratory space located one mile from the Fallon campus.

WNC will be able to provide nursing coursework to students from the Fallon region.

A nursing laboratory contains classroom and office space, as well as state-of-the-art equipment to educate Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistant and Emergency Medical Service students.

There are many reasons why Dr. Judith Cordia, WNC’s Nursing and Allied Health director, has long desired to bring nursing education back to Fallon.

But concern for student safety topped them all.

For the past five years, WNC nursing students from Fallon and surrounding rural areas have had to travel up to 140 miles each day to and from the Carson City campus.

They also routinely attended classes and labs four days each week, and spent additional time on the road for clinical and hospital rotations.

“If we can help students by negating some of that danger, give them more time with their families and more money in their pockets, all those things come with not having to drive,” Cordia said. “Students get tired and they have a lot of deadlines to meet.

“When the program ceased in Fallon during the economic downturn of 2011, there was a lot of disappointment throughout the region.” Cordia said.

In order to restore the program, the college needed approval from the Nevada State Board of Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

It also required new funding, which came through the U.S. Department of Labor’s TAACCCT grant, which was awarded to Nevada colleges.

The funding provides for a full-time nursing faculty member, equipment and supplies to meet the learning needs of students, renovation of classroom space, and equipment to support delivery of distance learning.

Besides the inherent dangers of travelling long distances when fatigued, students from the Fallon area have been spending long hours and money on gas and car maintenance, leaving less time to study and spend with families.

One former student from Hawthorne, a mother of three, traveled up to 1,000 miles to attend nursing classes four days a week in Carson City. She spent as much as $200 weekly on gas, although she sometimes shared those costs by commuting with WNC students from other rural communities.

“They knew this was what they had to do,” Cordia said.

An agreement with Churchill County enables WNC to use a 2,500-square-foot lab a mile from the Fallon campus to instruct eight nursing students annually. The lab contains classroom and office space, as well as state-of-the-art equipment to educate Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistants, and Emergency Medical Services students.

“We want to mimic the lab in Carson City so that the educational opportunities in Fallon are equal to the learning opportunities here,” Cordia said. “It’s fully furnished and is designed to be like a hospital environment.”

WNC is glad to welcome back former long-time nursing instructor Linda Jacks to teach the Fallon classes.

Other benefits Cordia foresees in returning the program to Fallon are increasing the presence of Nursing and Allied Health Division on the Fallon campus, possibly expanding enrollment in the Liberal Arts Division, and increasing enrollment on the Fallon campus.

“Having the nursing program on the Fallon Campus means a great deal to our local area students and to our local community.” said Sherry Black, director of WNC’s Fallon campus.

All the coursework required for the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing from WNC is now available at the Fallon campus.

Consistently, WNC nursing students have passed the National Council Licensure Examination at a high rate, and often find employment prior to graduation. Cordia said that of the 43 students who graduated from the program last spring, 40 of them have already passed the NCLEX exam, with two students yet to take the test.

“They receive a great education,” Cordia said.

This project was funded $4,406,143 (100 percent of its total cost) from a grant awarded under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.


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