“You represent the finest and best of the community and the college. We need you!” said Rappahannock Community College’s president, Dr. Elizabeth Crowther, to the class of 15 students who graduated from RCC’s practical nursing program on July 30.
Charles Smith, RCC’s dean of health sciences, reminded the graduates that “there are some great opportunities out there,” not only in career advancement, but in healing and helping. A former student asked Smith on Facebook whether he ever looked back at his life and wondered if he had made a bad career choice. Smith’s answer was “Never! — after 40 years, I have not one regret.” He expressed the hope that the graduating class would one day be able to say the same, and ended by thanking their families and friends for “the sacrifices you made to allow these folks to become valuable members of the community.”
Students who received pins this year, pledging to devote their lives to “service and the high ideals of the nursing profession,” were Sherry Hutchins, Colonial Beach; Angela Overstreet, Essex County; Rhonda Savage, Dorthy Shockley, Shada Thompkins, and Samantha Welsh, all of Gloucester County; Rachael Sifford, James City County; Ashlynn Dixon, King and Queen County; Danesha Walters, Lancaster County; Kanisha King, Middlesex County; Carlette Dickerson and Laura Farmer, both of Northumberland County; and Tiffany Day, Amanda Headley, and Margaret McBeth, all of Richmond County. Several of the graduates asked friends or family members who are already nurses to honor them by awarding them their pins.
Two members of the Class of 2015 were invited to play special roles in the program: Angela Overstreet led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Samantha Welsh introduced the keynote speaker for the ceremony. This was Bryant Hudgins, who is a 1997 graduate of the program, and worked as a licensed practical nurse from that time until 2013; currently he serves as assistant administrator of Lancashire Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center in Kilmarnock.
RCC’s three-semester practical nursing program — instructed by Bonnie Cooley, Laura Gares, Sara Headley, Susan Perry, Sheila Rice, Karen Taliaferro, and Rebecca White — is open to men and women who show evidence of interest, motivation, and aptitude for health care.
The program includes lectures, labs, and clinical site rotations, and covers the subjects of sociology, psychology, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and human development, health changes, medical terminology, and drug dosage calculations. Students participate in clinical rotations that include obstetrics and gynecology, mental health, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing, and long-term care nursing. Upon completion of the program, they are eligible to apply to the Virginia State Board of Nursing to take the licensure exam.