NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC Nursing Program

Students watch a simulated birth in El Hefni

The Lawrence campus at NECC has rapidly transformed in the last year for the nursing program, along with the Lawrence campus in general. From renovations around campus, to better places to eat in the urban surroundings and an overall feeling of positive change, Lawrence is a great place to be for NECC students.

For nursing students, the program at NECC offers both a general curriculum and nursing courses. It is set up for 2 years, however, it is a very intense curriculum so it is recommended by some nursing program educators to take longer than that to complete the program. There are a multitude of options for nursing students, and to become a nurse. NECC has a licensed practical nurse (LPN) course, which takes forty weeks. The program trains nurses to be at work at the bedside, in long-term care or community settings such as visiting nursing.

Jill Becker, who has been a nurse for over 40 years and educator for the nursing program for 13 years, has seen countless students come through the nursing program with success.

“One of the things I tell my students all the time is that my prize in the end is watching them graduate. I’ll have students who come up to me and ask how I’m doing and still remember being in my class and things like that, and that is always great. I especially care about those students who may have had a little bit more difficult, and that I worked hard with to see them graduate, but to me it’s just being able to communicate with students in this way, and I like the fact that we have a small program and small classes. There’s 30 students in our nursing 1 and 2 cohort, there’s 36 in the nursing 3 and 4 cohort and we have 18 students in the LPN to RN evening program. You get to know them really well,” said Becker.

The associate’s degree program for nursing at NECC is designed to be done in 2 years. It is a very intense program with the goal being to train an entry level nurse. Jobs for an entry level nurse also include long term care, but can also be in community settings. If a student has the dream of working in a hospital, most hospitals in today’s job climate are looking for nurses with a bachelor’s degree, so NECC can help students pursue that by transferring.
“A nurse who has an associate’s degree can continue on and transfer to a four year college and finish the credits to get a bachelor’s degree. Our students are coming in and taking those shorter steps, and we encourage everybody to go forward,” said Becker.

Although LPNs do not have the same level of responsibility as a registered nurse, NECC is a great stepping stone for nurses to start off at to become a registered nurse (RN) which has higher paying jobs.
“For some students, doing the practical nurse route is a good way to get started because within a year once you’ve finished the nursing part of it, you can be out working.”

The Lawrence campus is the primary location for the nursing program. The unfortunate stigma that is often associated with Lawrence has been rapidly changing along with innovative technology around both the city and the college.
“We are starting to see Lawrence pick up, there’s more people around, I like it and I’m happy being here. They’re about to get a new police department, the options are endless,” said Becker.
The college presence not only have been improving, but it has in some ways influenced the surrounding areas in a more positive way.

“I think the things that make Lawrence an exciting place, is that it’s much more of an urban environment. You do have to move around a bit to different buildings and there is a bit of a walk but I think that’s nice. What I think is really exciting is that Lawrence is undergoing a great change and I like being at Northern Essex to be a part of the change.”

Many of the classes are found in the El Hefni, which was completely redone a year ago, and the Dimitry building, which has also gone under renovations.

“The neat thing about this building is that they created a very modern type of health education program. We have really neat classrooms. We have labs with multiple bays and a simulation suite that is supposed to simulate a hospital,” said Becker.

The simulation wing of the El Hefni is incredible. They have mannequins that can blink their eyes, talk and have functions for students to practice medical procedures on. Professors are even able to watch students take care of a patient on camera and speak to them with a microphone through the mannequin to instruct.
There is a simulated apartment, trauma unit, ambulance and doctor’s office which last year students got the opportunity to help with flu shots and a simulated birthing area with a pregnant mannequin. It is an innovative technique to train young nurses and learn their trade in a real-life setting.

Students interested in the nursing program should contact their advisors, or pay a visit to the Lawrence campus.

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