Changing nursing, changing healthcare

Dr. Roswitha Davies 
Guest Blogger

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “nurse?” Do you think of a person who

Dr. Roswitha Davies, Nursing Dept.

Dr. Roswitha Davies

takes care of sick people in a hospital? Do you think of a person who works in a doctor’s office or a clinic who give pills and shots?  Most students who apply to the Nursing program at San Antonio College have an idea of what it means to be a nurse.

When looking at nursing on a broader level of a profession, however, our image is not as clear. Within nursing, we have licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and registered nurses (RN). Both levels are licensed to practice by the state upon completion of their programs, but the amount of training is different. Licensed vocational nurses receive one year of training and a certificate upon completion. Registered nurses may receive their training at a two-year community college and receive an associate degree or at a four-year university where they receive a bachelor’s degree. Registered nurses may further their education at a master’s or doctorate level.

Licensing ensures that all nurses are safe to practice in their jobs, and institutions that hire nurses ensure that the nurse’s job responsibilities do not exceed the level of training the nurse received. However, some research is finding that nurses at the bachelor’s level or higher can better deal with the evolving and complex healthcare system of the future.

In 2008, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine undertook an initiative for the purpose of making recommendations for the future of nursing. A report, released in 2010 was titled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”  Regarding nursing education, the report recommended that “nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.” The report further recommended that by 2020, the proportion of nurses with a bachelor’s degree should increase from 50 percent to 80 percent.

The ability to progress to the next level of education is not new in nursing. Mobility programs have been in existence for many years for LVNs to further their education and become registered nurses. Programs are also available for registered nurses with associate degrees to obtain bachelor’s degrees. Many of RN- to-BSN programs are available but currently only about 17 percent  of nurses with associate degrees continue to a bachelor’s degree. From this report, an idea was born in Texas to reduce barriers in the state that hinder successful academic progression from an associate to a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

This initiative became the Consortium for the Advancement of Baccalaureate Nursing Education in Texas (CABNET). San Antonio College is among 45 community colleges and 16 universities that have expressed interest in participating. In addition to reducing transfer and financial barriers to educational progression, CABNET has taken on a broader goal of revising the way nursing education is taught. Content taught in the various nursing programs would build from basic knowledge and skill taught at community college level to deeper learning at the university level. This common curriculum would eliminate duplication of courses and re-teaching of content that currently exists.

The CABNET plan allows for all required general education courses to be taken at the community colleges that would further reduce tuition costs. Finally, the CABNET plan still allows for the student, upon completion of the associate degree requirements, to become licensed and enter the workforce as a registered nurse. The CABNET initiative is moving into its development phase with the plan to begin implementation in Fall 2013.

Dr. Roswitha Davies is an associate professor in the Nursing Department  @ SAC.

Adelante Tejas – Year one nears completion

 By Title V Grant staff
 Guest Bloggers

In October 2011, San Antonio College (SAC) and Sul Ross State University (SRSU) began the Adelante Tejas (Forward Texas) grant partnership to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for Hispanic and low-income Texas students. This Title V grant seeks to increase the number of students declaring STEM majors at SAC and matriculate them through to corresponding graduate programs at SRSU.

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Counselor Rosa Maria Gonzalez and Instructor Alfred Alaniz advise a SAC student.

SAC’s grant support staff came on board in early 2012, which included a web master, a programmer, a student success specialist, a research specialist, and a pipeline coordinator. Grant staff from SAC and SRSU quickly began a comfortable long-distance working relationship.

In April 2012, Sul Ross hosted the first site visit in Alpine, for six San Antonio College delegates. Faculty and staff from both institutions met their counterparts, toured the university campus, visited the McDonald Observatory and explored Big Bend National Park together.

In June 2012 the combined Adelante Tejas team conducted a three-day STEM Summer Institute at San Antonio College to introduce faculty to new technological opportunities that could enhance STEM instruction.

Attendees learned how audiovisual podcasts could be used to supplement traditional classes and each recorded a short podcast to get more comfortable with the process. The Adelante Tejas grant calls for the development of 10 podcasts per year. As of this writing, nine podcasts have been recorded and eight have been delivered.

The Summer Institute participants also learned about 3D visualization technologies and were shown examples of how those could supplement STEM classes to clarify difficult concepts or to virtually ‘share’ bulky classroom models and physical artifact samples with students. Currently, faculty has proposed six 3D visualization projects and four proof-of-concept examples have been completed.

Fostering student-faculty rapport was the focus of an intensive four-day academic advising training institute that took place in July at SAC. Nine SAC faculty members and the SRSU Adelante Tejas director, Leslie Hopper, attended the institute. Video of these training sessions was streamed live over the Internet for those SRSU faculty and staff who were not able to attend.

This advising institute was designed to equip faculty with the tools, support and encouragement needed to advise students. In addition to training and workshop exercises, question and answer sessions with students gave the faculty first-hand exposure to real student concerns and insight into relevant advising strategies. Grant representatives, with assistance from staff and faculty from both institutions, are developing an institutional articulation agreement and a draft has been proposed. In addition to the agreement draft, three majors have been selected for the development of transfer guides. These include a BS in Biology, BS in Wildlife-Biology and a BS in Mathematics. A draft for the BS in Mathematics has been developed and has been presented for approval to department chairs at both institutions.

As part of the articulation agreement discussion, several instruments that would assist in the SAC to SRSU transfer process have been considered for inclusion. The addition of a consortium agreement would allow students to receive credit for hours enrolled at SAC to be considered in their financial aid package from Sul Ross for each semester they are co-enrolled. Also, a joint admissions agreement would allow SAC students to receive academic and financial advising through web-conferencing from SRSU staff before official admission into SRSU.

Representatives from both institutions continue to hold weekly web conferences and plan to finalize the articulation agreement, the BS in Mathematics transfer planning guide, the consortium agreement and the joint admissions agreement in anticipation of a signing ceremony in Spring 2013.

In August 2012, some 10 members of SAC’s faculty and staff (along with one student) visited the Sul Ross campus and learned more about the unique field research opportunities available to students in and around the West Texas Chisos Mountain range. SAC geology major Reuben Uribe met with SRSU graduate students and was invited to participate in hydrology field research the following week. This unexpected invitation is a prime example of the collaboration that can develop from this partnership.

As the first grant year comes to a close, SAC and Sul Ross have developed a solid foundation for the success of the Adelante Tejas grant and we are looking forward to the next four years.

When advising matters, faculty is there

Dr. Teanna Staggs
Guest blogger

With new limitations on the length of time that students are eligible for financial aid, never before has advising been so important. In 2009, the San Antonio College Biology Department embarked on a process that has now become a college-wide endeavor. We decided that student advising for our discipline was best placed in the hands of the faculty who specialize in a plethora of Biology sub-specialties.

A self-contained advising system was developed with the help of a talented programmer. Today, almost the entire department is trained on the system. In conjunction with the new Alamo GPS software and six newly revised degree plans, every faculty advisor now carries an advising load of students.
Here’s how it works: Students sign up for advising in the department by providing us with vital information that is entered into the system. Once entered, students are sorted by their chosen degree plan. For example, if the student is pursuing an AS in Nutrition, he will be paired with a nutrition professor. If a student is pursuing a pre-med or other professional degree, she will be paired with one of our pre-medical advisors. At that point the professor will email the student to set up an appointment for advising.

It is important the student brings copies of transcripts for any coursework not currently showing up in the ACES or GPS transcript. Our program will capture all coursework from the ACES transcript and populate a one-page spreadsheet to create a degree audit. The program also identifies any missing coursework the student needs to complete the degree. This is why the transcripts are important. If the courses are not in ACES, we can manually enter those courses and provide Admissions and Records with proof of course equivalency where appropriate.

At that point, we track our students by meeting with them at least once per semester to update their progress and make sure they are following the most efficient path toward graduation. Upon completion of the path, we complete the graduation paperwork and submit it for the student.

Students: Do you know the difference between the AS in Biology with a Pre-Nursing emphasis and the AAS in Nursing? We do.
Do you know which pre-requisite courses are shared among all Texas medical, dental and veterinary schools? We do.
Do you know which universities absolutely will not accept chemistry courses taken during a summer session? We do.

Dr. Teanna Staggs is the chair of San Antonio College Natural Sciences Department, which includes Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science programs.