Nevada Regional Tech Center honors first director

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Nevada Daily Mail

Around 50 people attended the Nevada Regional Technical Center School of Practical Nursing's 50th anniversary celebration, at the Bowman building, Friday.

"The nursing program was created in 1964, due to a growing need for LPNs related to the new Medicare law, effective July 1966, and to meet the demands of a growing community," Nevada Mayor Seth Barrett said, in his proclamation. "One of the primary objectives set for this school is to provide a well-trained workforce that will enhance the wellness of the community."

An official ribbon cutting followed the proclamation. Tours of the classrooms, photo albums of previous graduating classes, as well as refreshments and cake were offered during the school's open house.

In one of the albums, the first graduating class left a note of their experiences.

"It started without desks, textbooks, or supplies," the class wrote. "The students helped 'set up' the classroom. You should have been there the day we uncrated Mrs. Chase -- one arm appeared majestically from the packing -- the students quietly wondered if we were importing dead things."

Fifty years later, the classrooms show students are still learning on dummy arms, although much of the technology has changed.

The practical nursing program is fully approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and is accredited by the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of Missouri and North Central Accreditation Agency Association, according to the school's website. Maximum yearly enrollment is 30 students. Upon completion of the program, the graduate will be eligible to make application to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing called the NCLEX-PN.

"We educate nurses to be critical thinkers," Director Joanna Perkins said. "Nurses need to think on their feet, not just pass a test."

The Nevada School of Practical Nursing came about due to a survey that was conducted by Nevada Employment Security Office and the Nevada R-5 Schools to determine the need for LPNs in Vernon County and the surrounding counties, Perkins said in a press release.

According to Perkins, the school was planned, presented to and approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing. The first classroom, one large room with a classroom and arts lab, was on the third floor of the Moore building, which once stood at the corner of Washington and Cherry. The nursing school had two other small rooms -- the library and kitchen. The director of the program and the instructors had their own offices.

The program was federally funded by the Development and Training Act for five years, said Perkins. Trainees were selected through the Office of Employment Security. Betty Shirley was hired as the first director of the program in 1963. She established clinical facilities and signed co-operative agreements with the following facilities: Nevada City Hospital and Bates County Memorial Hospital, as the first two clinical sites. After much planning and revisions through the public schools director, R. B. Bennett, and after the Missouri State Board of Nursing gave temporary accreditation, Reine Six was hired as the first instructor and she and Shirley started teaching the first class on Jan. 4, 1964. In October 1964, Betty Wynn was hired as an additional instructor.

By 1969, the State Board of Nursing accredited the school to educate 30 students per year, said Perkins. After a successful first five years, the federal funding for the program ceased, so the Nevada R-5 Schools with assistance from the area hospitals set tuition for the program, which continues today.

In 1995, the Practical Nursing Program was moved to the Bowman building on North West Street, where it resides today, she said.

"As per the proclamation, our primary objectives are to provide a trained work force that will enhance the wellness of the community and develop skillful nurses that have a positive attitude for life-long learning process," she added.

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