NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State College of Nursing is offering clinical experiences for its bachelor degree program on the Natchitoches campus for the first time this spring.
Nursing students starting their college careers in Natchitoches previously transferred to the Alexandria, Leesville or Shreveport campuses to finish their degrees.
Dr. Theresa Kyzar, assistant professor and Natchitoches campus nursing coordinator, said the response to Natchitoches-based clinicals has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It allows students who are from this part of Louisiana an opportunity to stay here instead of driving to Shreveport or Alexandria,” Kyzar said. “It also allows out-of-area students who start their academic careers in Natchitoches to finish their degrees here instead of commuting or relocating.
“A student can take all classes, labs and clinicals right here in Natchitoches.”
Nursing students participate in clinical experiences at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center as well as other medical outlets like long-term care and acute care facilities.
The Natchitoches campus filled nine of its 10 clinical spots this semester in its initial cohort, and the number of available slots will increase to 20 in the fall and possibly to 30 by the fall of 2018.
NSU’s Natchitoches location already offers clinical experiences for associate degree students.
Nursing dean Dr. Dana Clawson said Natchitoches clincials strengthens the school’s ties to local medical centers.
“The Natchitoches clinicals benefit the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center by providing potential nurses who are exposed to the specifics of that hospital and could possibly be great recruits, especially with the widespread nursing shortage,” Clawson said. “Allowing our students to remain in Natchitoches to complete their degrees was a key factor in this move.
“This is a great addition to our nursing program after offering clinical learning at the Alexandria, Leesville and Shreveport campuses for more than 40 years.”
Kyzar added she doesn’t believe the Natchitoches clinicals addition will affect student enrollment at the other three campuses.
Kyzar said NSU previously lost students who would have obligations at the main campus in Natchitoches, such as student-athletes and ROTC members.
“We’ve had students not choose Northwestern State because they wouldn’t have been able to finish their degrees at the same place,” Kyzar said. “We believe we’re tapping into a new market by offering these clincials in Natchitoches and allowing students to complete their degree in one place.”
The NSU College of Nursing enrollment has grown by more than 10 percent each of the past two semesters.
NSU nursing students have a 96 percent pass rate on the NCLEX in the bachelor’s program and a 93 percent pass rate in the associate’s program.
The nursing school is starting a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program this coming fall.