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Becky Tustain was insturmental in the creation of the learning lab in the Hinds Community College Associate Degree nursing program, including the positioning of electrical outlets and mirrors above the beds.

Hinds Community College celebrates 50 years of nursing

Libby Mahaffey

Libby Mahaffey

Hinds Community College is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Associate Degree Nursing program at a time when many researchers expect the current nursing shortage to become even more acute within the next five to 15 years.

“Not only do nurses have job security, there are numerous nursing roles for graduates in acute care, long-term care, and community/home care,” said Elizabeth “Libby” H. Mahaffey, Ph.D., RN, dean of nursing and allied health at Hinds. “Our graduates also have opportunities to serve in leadership/management roles through experience and continuing formal and professional education.”

Hinds CC has associate degree graduates enter the profession three times each year, with about 225-300 graduates annually. While the majority of graduates remain in the greater Jackson area, some graduates work in communities across the state.

“Graduates are actively recruited through clinical agencies across the state,” Mahaffey said. “Approximately 95 percent of our graduates are employed within the first six months to one year after their graduation. Some graduates choose to continue their education prior to entering full-time employment.”

She said the majority of the Hinds students do plan continue their education, enrolling in Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and perhaps later to a Master of Science in Nursing program.”

Many of the ADN students are non-traditional, returning after working in other fields and/or completing other degrees.

“One of the options for the program is the transition to RN, which is a part-time, evening/weekend program that accepts students who are currently working as a licensed practical nurse, paramedic or respiratory therapist,” Mahaffey said.

Angela Mangum, a 2015 graduate, credits the Hinds ADN program with giving her the ability to use critical thinking in emergent situations and perform essential nursing skills efficiently.

A 1986 graduate, Linda Williams, said her experience at Hinds meant she was well prepared as a new nurse with all the necessary knowledge and skills to maintain continuous learning abilities and growth which advanced her career.

The first ADN class was established on the Raymond Campus in one room of the home economics building in the fall 1966. The first class had 26 students.

“At the time, we had no learning lab as we have today,” said Bobbie Anderson, who worked in the program for 24 years and was named the first dean of the Jackson Campus-Nursing Allied Health Center shortly after it was built.

“They gave us one bed in the corner of the home ec lab and one manikin,” Anderson said.

In those days, Mississippi didn’t mandate nursing instructors have master’s degrees. And students had to practice their lessons with their own friends and relatives –even down to proper bathing techniques.

“When it came to injections, we had sterile equipment, so there was no infection involved with it, but we had to get volunteers from family members to allow students to give injections,” she said. “I was one of the volunteers, too. That was a big order for a faculty member to do. Once we did that, we went directly to the patient’s bedside and a faculty member would supervise each student.”

Gloria Coxwell, who served as assistant dean of NAHC and director of the division of ADN from 1993-2005, said early teaching tools consisted of a blackboard, a piece of chalk and, on rare occasions, slides were available.

“Students furiously tried to write down every word that came out of the teacher’s mouth and memorize it for the test,” she recalls.

Terri Meadows, a 1980 graduate of the ADN program and currently chief nursing officer at Merit Health Madison, recalls that in the days before computers came into common use, during clinicals all students were required to have handwritten 3-by-5 cards with specific information on all drugs that would be administered to patients in the clinical setting.

“It was not an easy program,” she said. “It required full commitment and dedication.”

In 1982, the growing ADN program relocated to the $4-million NAHC located next to the hospital in Jackson now called Merit Health Central.

At the time it was a 51,000-square-foot facility for all nursing and allied health programs. In 1993, a 33,000-square-foot annex building was added.

The program has continued to expand with the 2014 opening of the Ball Simulation Center, featuring cutting-edge technology in the way of video, audio and other equipment train more than 1,000 nursing and allied health students in five simulation labs, two medical surgical patient rooms, an emergency room, a childbirth simulation area, home care lab and four debriefing rooms.

More expansion is planned with the addition of 11.5 acres of nearby property and two buildings in a swap with the Hinds County Board of Supervisors. More teaching labs and programs are planned, plus additional parking space and a direct connection to the simulation center.


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