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RNs finish class in time to take on virus

LISBON — The Columbiana County Career and Technical Center is prepared to graduate the school’s second class of registered nurses next week, just in time for some of them to help with the coronavirus.

Dr. Kelly Darney, the adult director of the CTC, said when the school was forced to stop holding in-person classes, the RN program was already running primarily online.

“We got kind of lucky,” Darney said. “Our RN program was a hybrid program to begin with.”

The one day a week where RN students were having face-to-face contact with instructors has been changed to using online video conferencing to handle that portion. Most of them had finished their practicums before the coronavirus changes happened and for the two or three who still had a few hours, they were able to complete them by simulator.

Additionally, while the 29 graduating RN students would usually have to take a state licensing board exam following the program, there has been a change with the COVID-19 situation closing the testing center. Instead these students will be able to begin practicing as RNs after applying for a one-year temporary license.

“It’s been a nice smooth transition really,” Darney said of the changes that had to happen to help the class complete the program.

Although graduation may be a little different, the students will be ready to go out and make a difference within the next few weeks and Darney said when she speaks to them, they tell her they are ready. With coronavirus cases on the rise across the country and in Ohio and a nursing shortage already, the new RNs will be needed.

She hopes they can all get together later to celebrate their achievement and take a large group graduation photo. But Darney said the RN students even took individual photos with the photographer in anticipation of their upcoming graduation two days before the school learned the students could no longer do in-person classes.

The LPN students are still about six months away, but Darney said they also have been able to stay on track. They already had online profiles before all this started and classes are being held using the Zoom program. Medical assistant classes also have stayed on course, Darney said.

Darney said with all the adult health field students using the technology to continue their classes from their homes, absentee rates are down with many of the excuses about rides or child care are no longer there.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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