Linn-Benton Community College celebrated the graduation of its largest-ever nursing class in a convocation ceremony held at Boulder Falls on Thursday, June 13.
Fifty-three students earned nursing degrees.
Marcy Shanks, a faculty member in the nursing program, said past classes typically numbered in the mid-40s. The opening of the Healthcare Occupations Center in Lebanon in 2017 has allowed the school to accept more nursing candidates.
“We’ve been admitting more students into the program and it is reflected in the number that are getting through,” Shanks said.
LBCC President Greg Hamann told the graduates they play a key role in the delivery of health care.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but there are a lot of people who like to talk about what’s wrong with health care these days,” Hamann said. “Everybody has a different idea about how to fix it. … But one thing we can agree on is that one thing that is right about health care is the work that you do.”
The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Sheryl Oakes Caddy, dean of nursing at Mt. Hood Community College and a 1984 graduation of the LBCC nursing program.
Caddy noted that nursing is not known as a welcoming field. She attributes this in part to the fact that brand-new nursing graduates work side-by-side with veterans of the field. This can lead to unnecessary conflict.
“The charge I would leave with you is to start to change that culture of not being welcoming to the new people coming in,” Caddy said.
She noted that changes in training and practice over the years have led to generational differences between nurses. She urged the graduates to recognize those differences to better understand some of their future colleagues.
“Nursing has been voted the most trusted profession the last 17 years in a row by the public,” Caddy said. “That’s incredibly important. What we need to get to is a point where nurses trust nurses.”
Three individuals were honored for their achievements during the ceremony. Graduate Benjamin Schmidt received the Spirit of Nursing Award and faculty member Caitlyn Terrell received the LBCC Nursing Alumni Award.
Shanks was awarded the Model of Nurse Excellence Award. This honor is voted on by the students.
After earning their nursing degrees from LBCC, these students are now eligible to take the licensure exam to become Registered Nurses. Shanks said 98 percent of LBCC graduates pass this test.
“Our goal is always 100 percent,” Shanks said.
In addition, about 75 percent of LBCC nursing graduates go on to earn their Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Linn-Benton has articulation agreements in place with Linfield School of Nursing and Northwest Christian University.
In addition to the nursing convocation, the Medical Assisting program held its pinning ceremony at Boulder Falls on Wednesday. The Occupational Therapy Assistant program held its graduate reception on Thursday.
Those programs are also housed at the Health Occupations Center.