Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s Associate Degree Nursing program has been named a Bellwether Award finalist.
Sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, Texas, Bellwether Awards are part of the Community College Futures Assembly, which recognizes cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that other colleges might find worthy of replicating. The awards are given annually in three categories to colleges with outstanding and innovative programs or practices.
OCtech’s ADN program is a finalist in the Instructional Programs and Services category, which honors programs or activities that have been designed and successfully implemented to foster or support teaching and learning at a college.
OCtech’s nomination outlined initiatives to increase the number of minority students accepted into – and graduating from – the college’s competitive healthcare programs, namely the ADN program. The three-semester ADN FLEX program incorporates classroom capture technology, online learning, course remediation and flexible scheduling to mitigate challenges like work, illness and lack of childcare that many students face as part of program completion. To enroll in the program, students must be a graduate of an accredited program and a licensed practical nurse. They are required to attend classes on campus one day a week and participate in weekend clinicals.
Since its inception in 2015, the ADN program has seen an increase in the number of minority student graduates, from 19 percent in 2015 to 46 percent in 2019. Graduation and licensure rates for ADN FLEX graduates have been equal to or exceeded those of the traditional ADN program.
“The flexible Associate Degree Nursing option has opened the door of opportunity for licensed practical nurses to further their education with a noted increase in minority success,” Nursing and Health Science Dean Candance Tooley said. “With this degree, their employment opportunities and financial security have increased. We are honored to be chosen as a Bellwether Award finalist.”
Because of the program’s success, several other academic areas at OCtech have adopted the FLEX model, including Accounting, Business and Early Childhood Education. Students have the option to attend day, evening or online course sections, depending on their changing circumstances. As a result, these programs have seen increased enrollment and course completion.
“I’m so proud of the work done by Dean Candance Tooley, Program Coordinator Susan Chavis and the nursing faculty at OCtech,” President Dr. Walt Tobin said. “We have a history of preparing students for good jobs and great careers, and being recognized as a Bellwether finalist further validates my belief that OCtech’s faculty and staff are among the best in the country.”
Bellwether Award winners will be announced at the Community College Futures Assembly and Bellwether Award Ceremony Feb. 2-4 in San Antonio. For more information, visit bellwethercollegeconsortium.com.
Spring classes at OCtech begin Monday, Jan. 13. To explore the college’s FLEX options, visit octech.edu/flexible.