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    LSCPA receives $200,000 nursing innovation grant

    In an intensive care unit, split-second decisions can mean life or death and it takes the highest quality of hands-on experience to make sure ICU nurses are prepared to make those critical care choices.

    Now, Lamar State College Port Arthur will offer that extra level of critical care clinical experience after being awarded a $196,031 grant from the Texas High Education Coordinating Board.

    “This is a very important step for the school and for the students we serve,” Shirley MacNeill, Director of Allied Health at LSCPA, said. “This allows our students to be on equal footing with any student from any school producing registered nurses.”

    The grant will be used to purchase a simulation setup that will include a critical care patient, intensive care bed, crash carts, defibrillator and ventilator, all of which create a real-life situation for nursing students. Up to 50 percent of a student’s clinical experience can be undertaken in a simulation lab with the rest taking place in area medical care facilities.

    LSCPA is one of 17 colleges state-wide that received the Nursing Innovation Grant, which was established to help fill the growing need for registered nurses across Texas. The college offers a stepping-stone approach for students who can advance from certified nurse aide to licensed vocational nurse and finally the Associate Degree in Nursing that allows students the opportunity to take the state licensure exam. From there, students are prepared to step directly into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

    The Allied Health program at LSCPA currently has 117 students enrolled. The grant and additional training opportunities in the area of critical care will allow for an additional 10 students to enroll in the Spring 2017 semester with plans to continue that enrollment growth into the future.

    “The area’s clinical facilities do an excellent job managing the number of nursing students we have in all of our programs,” MacNeill said. “With a shortage of RNs in the state, there is an even greater demand for clinical study opportunities, especially in critical care. This additional simulation equipment will allow our program to send more critical care nurses into the workforce or on to the bachelor’s program.”

    LSCPA currently has a simulation lab that addresses surgical technology, pediatric, obstetric and general care clinical situations.

    Stephen Reid is a nurse practitioner who works in the emergency room at Baptist Hospital while also serving as an instructor for LSCPA’s Allied Health program. He earned his LVN and RN degrees from Lamar State College Port Arthur before earning a degree at Texas Women’s University.

    “I was a student at LSCPA and back then, we didn’t have simulations,” Reid said. “I can tell you that as an LVN, it wasn’t until I got out and through trial and error that I truly experienced the things I needed to know to practice in critical care. This is not a line of work where you want to invite error. The simulation lab that we have addresses the low to mid-level acuity patients our students will eventually see. But we want to give our students experiences all the way to the highest acuity patients. Without the right kind of equipment, there’s only so far you can bring a student.

    “This grant and the new equipment that comes with it will create a realistic situation that gives our students a head-start in being prepared for real-life clinical situations with critically ill patients,” he said. “That experience will be invaluable.”

    Registration for the Spring 2017 semester is already underway. Those interested in a career in medicine can learn more at http://www.lamarpa.edu/Degrees-Certificates/Technical-Programs/Allied-Health.