Campus News

Cultivating Culture, Creating Success

By Trisha Domenie

Another semester is underway for the nursing program at SMCC. For nursing students, that means a lot of reading, a major exam within the first three weeks, mild panic attacks, and lots of coffee. It also means the coming together of students to help support one another through what would otherwise be a very lonely and difficult program. 

During the first week of each semester, the faculty and students from the Brunswick, York, and South Portland campuses gather in Jewett Auditorium for the Nursing Forum. During the Spring 2020 forum, a number of faculty, the Program Chair, the school President, and others spoke to the incredible power of coming together and holding each other up. This supportive culture is cultivated from the very first day of classes and is what makes the nursing program at SMCC unique and successful. 

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The success of the nursing program is illustrated through some stunning statistics. The first of these is the pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination (the NCLEX is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses that must be completed to receive an RN). The most recent NCLEX pass rate for SMCC students was 95% (100% for those who studied at the Brunswick campus). Compare this to the national average in 2019 for test takers who graduated from an Associates program where the pass rate is just 85%.

The other important number is the nursing program’s persistence rate; this rate quantifies the number of students who complete the program from start to finish. The national completion rate for all associates programs is 62% according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That number drops to about 30% for those completing a program within three years. The completion rate for the SMCC nursing program is currently at 79.6%. That number is likely to rise as of May 2020.

“79.6% is a startling rate,” announced SMCC President Cassidy at the Forum in January. “Both of those numbers speak to faculty commitment and your commitment. You are a phenomenal group of students, you support one another. None of these rates would be where they are if you didn’t support one another.” 

President Cassidy continued to speak to the rigorous program requirements and the pride the school feels in the nursing program and the students who commit to it. 

Following President Cassidy’s presentation, Dr. Matthew Goodman, Dean of Academic Excellence, spoke. “I wanted to share in the brilliance,” he said, grinning. Dr. G shared his intention to learn from the students and faculty in order to improve other programs at the school.

For many of the nursing students, this type of recognition came as a surprise, “I knew the program was tough, but I didn’t realize how important it is for the school,” one first-semester student expressed after the forum.

The theme of supporting one another runs through the program before students even step into the classroom for Nursing 125. The week before the start of each semester, the Nursing Club puts on a “Welcome Breakfast” for the incoming class. This helps to relieve anxiety, answer questions about the program, and lets the new students know that their peers are there to support them. 

In addition to this breakfast, the Nursing Club runs a mentor program that matches upperclassmen with first semester students and the program hosts tutoring sessions one or two days each week. Study groups spring up quickly, small groups are formed within each cohort, clinical groups form strong bonds as they do their rotations at local health care facilities, and group projects solidify the supportive atmosphere that is cultivated among the nursing students. 

Some would say that this is a survival technique for the nursing students, and it probably is. But beyond just survival, the students in this program are able to thrive, make lifelong friends, and prepare for the collaborative atmosphere of the healthcare field. 

Dr. G closed with an encouraging, “We are all rooting for you.” And, as one can see, the students are all rooting for each other which is a powerful part of the program’s success. 

Trisha Domenie
Second Semester Nursing Student
Vice President of the Nursing Club

Categories: Campus News

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