Theresa Witt had been a licensed practical nurse for 15 years when she decided she wanted to continue her education by enrolling in the Fairmont State University School of Nursing and Allied Health Administration Associate Degree in Nursing program.
Witt is now set to be among the first students to complete a program FSU began offering in May 2005. The new accelerated program will allow her to complete the associate degree in one year, half the time usually required to meet this educational goal.
"Fairmont State's service region has many Licensed Practical Nurses who are interested in progressing to licensure as a registered nurse," said Dr. Deborah Kisner, Dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health Administration. "This accelerated program gives students such as Theresa the opportunity to earn college credit toward the Associate of Science in Nursing for courses taken in their certificate program and to build on clinical competencies gained through their career."
Because Witt had no previous college background, she was required to take core classes that she started in advance of entering the Associate Degree in Nursing program. Witt said the key to success in the accelerated program is organization.
"For me, that has been the most difficult task. Also, I have trouble testing, and so I've really had to practice my test-taking skills since nursing is all about passing the State Boards,"she said.
''I certainly am proud to be furthering my career in nursing, as I have always loved this field of work. I am grateful to be in the accelerated program and hope this will encourage other LPNs to further their education as well."
Witt was recently appointed by Gov. Joe Manchin to represent LPNs on the West Virginia Center for Nursing Board of Directors. The center was created by the state Legislature in 2004 to enhance nursing excellence to optimize the health and health care of all West Virginians through strategic workforce planning, education, research and nurse practice development. Its goals are to strengthen the ability of West Virginia nurses to deliver quality health care in diverse settings and to facilitate initiatives for solving the nursing shortage and issues involving recruitment and retention of nurses in West Virginia.
"This is an honor that will give her the opportunity to work with educators, practitioners and members of the public in reviewing issues and trends that affect nursing in West Virginia," Kisner said.
Fairmont State's Associate Degree in Nursing program has maintained continuing accreditation through both the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses and the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission since 1966.
The career ladder approach applied by the FSU School of Nursing and Allied Health Administration allows students to complete the Associate Degree in Nursing, become licensed as a Registered Nurse and then advance to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
FSU also offers a Master's in Nursing Education and a Master's in Nursing Administration degree in collaboration with the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Marshall University.