First GCC nursing class to earn R.N. degrees

Students in the first class of Grove City College’s Charles Jr. and Betty Johnson School of Nursing are expected to earn their associate nursing degrees from Butler County Community College in May.

The students, all juniors, received clinical and technical training through BC3’s two-year Nursing, R.N., program under an innovative partnership between the schools. Under it, students study nursing and the liberal arts and sciences at Grove City College in their first and final years, with the BC3 training in years two and three.

Upon graduation from BC3, Emma Clark, Finnley Coglon, Sadie Kriebel, Sara Layton, Elizabeth Mackey, Abigail Montgomery, and Emily Smyth can take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and work as registered nurses as they complete a bachelor’s degree at Grove City College.

“The education gained at BC3 allows us to be eligible to take the boards this summer to become a certified R.N.,” said Smyth, of Lancaster, Pa. Coglan, of Morristown, N.J., said the arrangement is ““beneficial financially and gives me more experience.” The partnership between the schools, said Clark, of Chicora, Pa., “allows students to jump-start their career.”

Dr. Nick Neupauer, president of BC3, called the partnership a “dream.”

“Students can work as R.N.s after earning their credential at BC3, then pursue the last leg of their baccalaureate at such a storied institution such as Grove City College,” Neupauer said. “How perfect – especially with the need for nurses in our communities.”

“This partnership has been an extraordinary development for Grove City College,” said Paul J. McNulty ’80, president of Grove City College.

“We knew going in that BC3’s nursing program was top-flight, and the past three years have clearly proven that to be true. This collaboration hits the sweet spot of GCC’s mission to equip our students to serve others with skill and determination,” McNulty said.

Grove City College began its nursing program in 2019 through the Charles Jr. and Betty Johnson School of Nursing, which was established through a gift from Jayne Rathburn. The first class began classes in 2021.

“I am thrilled for our students, deeply appreciative of BC3’s excellence and cooperation, and especially thankful for Jayne Rathburn’s generous financial support of this initiative in honor of her parents,” McNulty said.

Future Grove City College nursing students will attend classes in the high-tech Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health Building, which is scheduled to open in August at BC3’s main campus in Butler Township. Grove City College contributed $500,000 to the project. The facility will provide an immersive learning environment with a hospital-like interior featuring simulated medical-surgery and ICU rooms, said Brian Opitz, BC3’s executive director of operations.

“We’re very excited about what’s to come,” said Dr. Patty Annear, dean of BC3’s Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health. “And I think the Grove City students are certainly looking forward to being in the new building.”

“A partnership is designed to share resources. Grove City has wonderful science programs, supporting courses, and we have the nursing program. Merging those two together is just a win-win for everyone involved,” she said.

In their sophomore and junior years, nursing students pursue 41 credits in nine technical and clinical courses through BC3 while also taking classes in Grove City College’s Johnson School of Nursing.

At BC3, Grove City College students train with state-of-the-art medical educational technology equipment that includes simulated patients that can be programmed by nursing faculty to exhibit symptoms or scenarios. “BC3,” said Mackey, of San Antonio, Texas, “has a wealth of resources.”

They attended clinical training last fall at Butler Memorial Hospital and this spring are attending clinical training at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. “Seeing a wide variety of patients and gaining experience in different units has made me a well-rounded student,” Clark said, “and will set me up for success.”

“The networking opportunities that BC3 provides have been instrumental in my education,” said Montgomery, of Mercer, Pa. “We have had opportunities to network with multiple health systems throughout our clinical experiences.”

Dr. Janey Roach is director of Grove City College’s nursing program, and said students were “thrilled” with the support of BC3’s nursing faculty.

“You have to be a mature student to be able to take an educational program that’s offered in two different places under two different learning management systems. So, these students truly value the support that they receive from (Dr.) Patty Annear and from the faculty. That’s what they talk about the most,” Roach said.

Their nursing instructors “push us to think critically, which prepares us to go out into the field after graduation,” Coglon said. “They teach us not just book material, but give us real-life advice when it comes to being a nurse,” said Kriebel, of York, Pa.

The Grove City College students will join BC3 Nursing, R.N., graduates during BC3’s 2023 nurses pinning ceremony May 11 in Succop Theater on BC3’s main campus.

(A version of this story was originally published by Butler County Community College.)

First GCC nursing class to earn R.N. degrees

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