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Practical Nursing Program Ranked Sixth in NC

ECC Practical Nursing students gather before leaving Prodigy Transitional Rehab in Tarboro where they provide clinical care. ECC’s PN program has been ranked #6 in the state.

Edgecombe Community College’s Practical Nursing program was recently ranked #6 in the state after receiving a perfect score by a national nursing advocacy organization.

The top nine schools on the list received a 100 percent score, and Edgecombe Community College was listed as sixth based on program size.

“It’s great,” says Barbara Knopp, program chair and director of Nursing at the College. “We’re very proud of our program.”

Carly Jacobs of sent a congratulatory email in March to the College on the “outstanding accomplishment.”

Jacobs reported that the National Council Licensure Examination results for practical nurses play a significant role in the ranking. The group analyzes NCLEX-PN pass rates over the past five years, during which time Edgecombe Community College has excelled.

“Since its inception (in 2011), our program has had a 100 percent pass rate,” Knopp says.

She credits the College’s success on its move from a medical model program to a concept-based program. Instead of focusing on specific diseases, instructors focus on concepts.

“We look at forty-nine concepts that are divided in three domains – the individual, nursing, and the health care system – and use common diseases, like asthma and diabetes, to apply the concepts,” Knopp explains.

Students study concepts like oxygenation, inflammation, and infection. If a patient is having trouble breathing, students are taught to first deal with the breathing issue instead of the reason behind the issue. This encourages students to look at patterns across concepts and to use those trends in their care.

This method helps students apply concepts from one situation to another, and it increases their critical thinking, Knopp says.

Edgecombe Community College’s PN curriculum is a three-semester program, and it begins in the fall. The College can teach up to twenty students. Currently fourteen students are in the program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an eighteen percent growth in LPN jobs by 2024 in North Carolina. At present, the average annual salary for practical nurses in the Rocky Mount area is nearly $41,000.

“The majority of our practical nursing students stay three more semesters to get their associate degree in nursing, which qualifies them to take the exam to become a licensed registered nurse,” Knopp says. “Some have even returned to school and earned their bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“For our geographic location, we are an entry point for students to get an opportunity for employment with a good salary and the opportunity to excel in their field. We offer all that, and more, at Edgecombe Community College.”