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Community colleges are addressing the health care worker shortage

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58 – your weekly round-up of the latest community college news from across North Carolina and the country. If you’re not signed up for Awake58’s weekly newsletter, click here to do so. Our last edition featured coverage of the system conference, a change to Career and College Promise, and an update on the NCCCS presidential search. You may read it by clicking here.

Our Impact58 coverage continues with a spotlight on two colleges’ work around health care… The State Board of Community College meets this week… The system presidential search continues this week… The N.C. Community College Faculty Association has launched a podcast… We recap the system conference…

Hello — and thank you for allowing us into your inboxes again this week. It was great to see so many of you at the system conference. So many of you were kind enough to stop by our booth to say hello and share that you read our newsletter. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate both the kind words and your ongoing readership. We also deeply appreciated everyone who stopped by Sam Jones BBQ for our welcome reception. It was a fantastic time. We look forward to hosting you all again soon.

We want to extend our condolences to those in Wake County impacted by the mass shooting last week. Mary Marshall, one of the people who was shot and killed last week, was a 2014 Wake Technical Community College graduate. Wake Tech President Scott Ralls shared some thoughts on Twitter last week. You can click on the link below to see the full thread from Ralls.

In a recent story on Durham Technical Community College and their work in health care, Hannah McClellan shared the following data point that places our health care workforce challenges in context: “North Carolina could be among the top five states for nursing shortages by 2026 if current trends continue. By 2033, the state could have a shortage of nearly 17,500 nurses, according to N.C. Nursecast data.”

As our Impact58 tour continues, the need for community colleges to play a key role in supplying nurses, paramedics, and other health care workers continues to come up over and over again. My colleague Cheyenne McNeill visited James Sprunt Community College as part of her Impact58 travel — and building the pipeline of health care workforce was once again a focus:

(Faculty member Phadra) Murray is working to boost local talent entering the nursing program. It’s why she’s partnered with Elizabeth Howard, JSCC’s Career and College Promise (CCP) liaison, to visit local high schools and encourage interested students to apply to the nursing program. Murray said it’s important that high school students know how the application process works.

“A lot of students – it’s not that they don’t want to become nurses, they don’t know how to,” Murray said. “I like to work within the pathway starting in high school, so they’ll know they’re on the right path.”

Click here to read Cheyenne’s piece.

Molly Osborne also visited Nash Community College as part of Impact58. She met LaToya McCurdy, who launched her career in health care as a nurse — and now owns and operates two small businesses including a private medical practice and a wellness/hydration clinic. This piece showcases how even small business centers play a role in sparking growth in health care. You can find Molly’s article here.

The system’s presidential search committee will meet in the Dr. W. Dallas Herring State Board Room on Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. You can watch the meeting via livestream on the N.C. Community College System Office YouTube channel.  The state board will meet on Thursday and Friday — and those meetings will also be livestreamed on YouTube. For more details, check out the Around NC section below.

We’ll be out on the road again this week with Impact58 visits to Coastal Carolina, Halifax, Robeson, Wilkes, and Caldwell community colleges. Follow along via Twitter.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth — EdNC.org


EdNC reads

N.C. Community College System hosts first in-person conference since 2018

For the first time since 2018, the North Carolina Community College System conference was in-person. It was fantastic to be back with everyone this year — and I think folks could feel the energy in the hallways as folks reconvened.

Smaller sessions focused on adult learners and N.C. Reconnect, the role of workforce credentials, diversity equity and inclusion, and other topics across the conference.

A common theme? Transformation is underway on campuses across North Carolina:

Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. Laura Leatherwood delivered remarks about the responsibility of the 58 colleges to respond to what’s ahead and shape the future of North Carolina.

Leatherwood said three things are key to community colleges transforming both the state and students’ lives: the diversity of the state’s community colleges, collaborators and partnerships, and a disruptor mindset.

“A disruptor mindset embraces innovation to cause radical change in an existing industry or market,” Leatherwood said. “Community colleges are disruptors. We’ve already disrupted higher education and what it looks like.”

Leatherwood pointed to community colleges accelerating their responses to training, courses, and workforce solutions. She also highlighted how colleges across the system have dismantled timelines to deliver solutions that drive and support local economies.

“We’re anticipating what’s next,” Leatherwood said.

Emily’s full write-up can be found here. We’d love to know your thoughts about the system conference. What did you learn? What did you take away? Did you make new connections? Just reply directly to this email with your thoughts.

Impact58: Nash and James Sprunt Community College work on health care workforce

We’ve heard a lot about the shortage of health care workers across the country. Community colleges will play one of the most important roles in rebuilding the pipeline moving forward. With that said, we all know the complexities facing our system including clinical sites, faculty recruitment and retention, student recruitment and retention, and more.

Cheyenne’s article on her recent visit to James Sprunt Community College captures some of how this plays out on the ground:

“One of the things that I’ve seen at some local hospitals is that because of the nursing shortage, they have to close units down because we don’t have enough nurses,” (Faculty member Phadra) Murray said.

To combat this, Murray is working to ensure that students in JSCC nursing programs are familiar with the health care industry in Duplin County, in hopes that they’ll choose to work in the area after graduation.

“Hopefully letting them experience what we have to offer in our local hospitals, so that once they complete their program here, that they will go back and work at the health department here and work at the hospital here,” Murray says.

But she knows that a large portion of nursing students at JSCC aren’t coming from Duplin County. Instead, they are coming from nearby counties like Onslow, New Hanover, Wayne, and others. Setting students up for success after graduation is one of Murray’s top priorities, so creating partnerships with hospitals in these other areas is important. She said it allows her students to “get their foot in the door” when they begin looking for job opportunities.

For Cheyenne’s full article, click here.

This health care work extends to supporting small businesses and startups in the health care space. Molly’s visit to Nash Community College included an opportunity to meet LaToya McCurdy. McCurdy now owns and operates both a primary care practice and a hydration and wellness clinic.

McCurdy’s story is a compelling one — and Molly’s article links McCurdy’s entrepreneurial journey to a recent economic impact analysis of Nash Community College:

A major part of that impact comes from students like McCurdy who use the skills and knowledge they gain from the college to get good-paying jobs and open businesses in Nash County.

The report estimates that for every dollar students spend on their education at NCC, they gain $3.60 in higher future earnings, equating to an average annual rate of return of 20.9%. For nursing students, that number is $7.60 for every dollar invested, leading to 32% average annual rate of return. And for McCurdy, that number is likely even higher.

For McCurdy’s full story — including her use of the small business center at Nash to launch her efforts — click here.

Perspective | One-stop centers: Invaluable tools for community colleges and the students we serve

Blue Ridge Community College President Laura Leatherwood’s monthly perspective focuses on the role of one-stop centers on community college campuses — and the promise behind the programs:

There are many factors that contribute to a student’s success and completion of their educational journey. According to an article by “Inside Higher Ed,” one of the top student success strategies to help with retention is to reimagine advising and support services. This includes the creation of one-stop centers for resources. Particularly at institutions where students possess several risk factors, it is important to cater to their needs and adopt a student-centered approach.

When you think about it, what student wouldn’t want to have an easily accessible, one-stop resource available to support their journey? Moreover, what higher education institution wouldn’t want to implement a strategy that helps with retention and contributes to long term success?

For many four-year colleges and universities, this type of resource is commonplace, but for community colleges, the option hasn’t always been readily available or as robust as we’d like.

Thankfully, offering services in one location that will enable our students to successfully navigate their educational journeys is becoming more of a trend among our community college peers. Many community colleges, particularly those of smaller sizes, have similar models in place but use different terminology. For many of us, these are simply student services where the resources are already in one central location.

Leatherwood goes on to lay out some of the “why” behind such centers — and some of the lessons they’ve gained to date. Give her article a read by clicking here.


Around NC

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges Presidential Search Committee will meet on Wednesday at 9 a.m. View the agenda here, and the meeting will be live-streamed on the N.C. Community College System Office YouTube channel.

The State Board will also meet this week on Thursday and Friday. Find the agendas here. The meetings will also be livestreamed on the N.C. Community College System Office YouTube channel.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina announced the North Carolina Educator Pipeline Collaborative last week with “an inaugural cohort of eight teacher preparation partnerships from across the state, including school districts, universities, and community colleges working to strengthen the educator pipeline.” Several community colleges were included in the cohort.

The Community College Faculty Association launched “58 Collaborate – A North Carolina Community College Faculty Podcast” last week. The podcast represents faculty from all N.C. community colleges, and will explore pedagogy, research, and culture across the state. Listen to the first episode here.

Cape Fear Community College plans to increase their health care offerings. Here is some context from WilmingtonBiz.com. 

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has one of the most popular views in Watauga County, and now they are adding an information kiosk to promote the college.

Dogwood Health released their focus areas for 2023.

Durham Tech continues to progress on their affordable housing project — and they are including potential residents in the visioning.

Johnston Community College experienced an increase in enrollment this fall.

Mitchell Community College named Randy Ledford as the vice president of learning at Mitchell. Ledford was previously at CCC&TI. 

Nash Community College has received a $25,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support its Electric Line Construction program. “The grant funds will be used for diversity recruitment, instructor stipends, equipment, materials and program marketing.”

Richmond Community College is hosting a health care job fair this week. They have also added a 911 telecommunicators degree.

Sandhills Community College is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club to provide after school child care for continuing education students.

Wake Tech is focusing on women in STEM in an effort to “close the gap.”

Wilkes Community College raised $100,000 for scholarships from their golf tournament.


Other higher education reads

Service-Oriented Culture at Colleges With One-Stop Shops

This article from Inside Higher Ed is the article President Laura Leatherwood featured in her perspective this month. It is worth your time:

Conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse with support from Kaplan, the survey of 2,239 college undergrads (including spring 2022 graduates) found, for example, a connection between having access to a multipurpose office and how happy students believe staff are over all at the institution. Thirty-five percent of students at colleges with a one-stop shop for services (n=815) say that staff across campus seem very happy to be doing the work that they do. That’s compared to 14 percent of students whose colleges do not have a one-stop (n=552, with the remaining respondents being uncertain if such an office exists on campus).

Positive experiences students might have with an office include being treated kindly by staff, getting a quick reply to a question or having an issue resolved. But the aim of providing good service is also broader than that.

For the rest of the data, click here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.