Renée Ferguson Butler entered the healthcare field about nine years ago, working full-time in various units of Ancora Psychiatric Hospital. As she performed her duties, her interactions with an array of patients made her realize that she would make a good nurse.
So she enrolled in Camden County College in 2003 with plans of earning her associate’s degree from CCC and her nursing school diploma from Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing through the institutions’ cooperative program and then testing for her registered nurse (RN) licensure. She knew these credentials would allow her to achieve her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse.
Her plan was to continue working as she had been while she studied, knowing it would take her several years. Then, when she finished her RN studies, she would procure her first nursing job.
While taking classes, though, she learned about a new program that was debuting at the College in 2007. The licensed practical nurse (LPN) program was created to help prospective nurses get credentialed and into the nursing field well before they completed their RN studies.
“I decided to enroll in the practical nursing program so I could fulfill my desire of becoming a nurse sooner while continuing on and working to reach my ultimate goal of becoming a registered nurse,” said Butler, who completed her LPN certificate in December 2008.
“I knew that earning my LPN would make me more marketable in the medical field until I became an RN.”
Although practical nursing programs are offered at the pre-college level by technical schools throughout the state, few collegiate programs exist in New Jersey. As a result, CCC’s LPN program is a rarity.The program combines specialized courses in nursing with general higher education courses. Students who complete the courses successfully qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination in Practical Nursing. The passing of this exam allows them to use the LPN designation professionally and provides the credentialing needed to work as practical nurses.
The LPN and RN programs are just two rungs on Camden County College’s career ladder in nursing. CCC’s RN programs, which are run in cooperation with Our Lady of Lourdes and Helene Fuld School of Nursing in Camden County, have been in existence for decades.
In 2005, CCC entered a partnership with Seton Hall University to provide local RNs who have associate’s degrees with the chance to earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees at CCC campus locations. This opportunity was created because there were few RN-to-BSN-granting institutions in the Camden County area. It was necessary due to the healthcare industry’s drive to establish the BSN as the minimum educational requirement for RN employment within the next decade.
Other recent additions to Camden County College’s study offerings provide credentialed entry into the healthcare field at a more basic level. In 2004, the certified nurse aide (CNA) program was created to offer students that first professional step into healthcare. This program trains students to provide care under the supervision of RNs at rehabilitative and other facilities.
A second rung on that career ladder, added this year, is the multi-skilled technician (MST) program. This eight-credit program fits between the CNA and the LPN to offer even more training and job options to those who have some healthcare training but are not yet credentialed as a nurse. Students receive a background in basic healthcare, including phlebotomy, life support, electrocardiography and in-home healthcare.
The CNA-MST-LPN-RN-BSN career ladder created by these programs helps those interested in entering nursing or those already practicing nursing care at some level to move seamlessly toward achieving their professional goals. It also helps to address the pervasive shortage of nursing-care providers that has existed locally, regionally, nationally and internationally since the 1990s. For further details about the practical nursing certificate program or other programs on Camden County College’s CNA-MST-LPN-RN-BSN career ladder, potential students may contact nursing coordinator Marlene Lazarus at (856) 227-7200, ext. 4566, or firstname.lastname@example.org.