Students in stages of life ranging from fresh out of high school, to single parents, to nearing the typical age of retirement will graduate from Meridian Technology Center’s Practical Nursing Program with a skillset and career opportunity that wasn’t available to them just one year before.
The journey for the graduating class of August 2020 is already beginning this month with informational application orientation sessions. These sessions are for prospective students and their significant others, friends or other family members to attend to find out if the program is right for them. The first one is on January 30 from 9 to 11 a.m., and additional sessions will be held twice a month February through May. To learn more about the program, entrance requirements and orientation sessions, visit meridiantech.edu/lpn.
Meridian’s Practical Nursing Program takes 12 months to complete and sessions begin every February and August. The application deadline for August 2019 is June 3.
To keep the program only one year long, applicants are required to have credit for four prerequisite classes: Medical Math or an equivalent, Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Long Term Care Aide (or hold current certification). They are offered at Meridian and through other educational entities.
“Our prerequisites cut off two to three months from the program,” said Dolores Cotton, Coordinator of the Practical Nursing Program at Meridian Technology Center. “We can focus more on the actual nursing and nursing care, which is where our expertise is.”
Licensed Practical Nurses play an important role in the health care field as the nurses who most often deal directly with patients on a day-to-day basis. From taking care of the needs of the patient to conveying any problems and discomfort to their supervisory nurses and doctors, the LPN frequently serves as the chief communicator for patients.
Throughout Meridian’s program, students will gain both a theoretical understanding and hands-on experience in areas such as health promotion, health maintenance and caring for illnesses. They’ll get to practice their skills with simulation manikins and work with actual patients in clinical settings before they apply to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses at the end of the course.
Hospitals, clinics, long-term care and home health care are the most common areas of employment for LPNs, but they can also continue on to become registered nurses, nurse educators or Life Care Planners. After the program, the majority of these students go on to become RNs and several have become nurse practitioners — one even runs her own clinic.
The program is about more than just an education to Cotton. She says one of her favorite parts is “seeing a difference in a student who first attends and seeing how much they grow in different ways throughout the program. Maybe someone who just doesn’t have that self-confidence and then they bloom and become more confident in themselves.”
The Oklahoma Works initiative has identified LPNs and other health care professions as part of Oklahoma’s 2018-2020 Critical Occupations List, and job opportunities for LPNs are projected to grow by about four percent between 2018 and 2028. Currently, there are nearly 900 annual LPN job openings in Oklahoma.
“I’m proud of all of the students who can finish, because it’s not easy,” said Cotton. “It’s hard work, and you’ve got to have dedication.”
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.