Gillette College, Nursing Program Highlighted in Multi-Entity Vison Meeting
Of the entire nursing staff at Campbell County Health, 60- 80 percent were recruited as graduates of the Gillette College Nursing Program, according to CEO Andy Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald referenced this fact in response to a question posed by Campbell County Commissioner Del Shelstad during the city, county, town vision meeting in the George Amos Memorial Building last night.
In response, Shelstad, stated that it was no secret that a small portion of the community were still furious that the county was funding Gillette College.
The sheer number of nurses hired out of the local nursing program, around 15- 20 a year, according to Fitzgerald, reiterated the important role the college plays in a local organization as large as CCH.
Fitzgerald added that CCH has a higher retention rate among nurses, who are recruited locally, opposed to hiring them from out-of-state places like Texas or Michigan. Retention climbs further still when new nurses are put through the health organization’s nurse residency program, he noted, that mentors them and helps establish them as professionals.
“I think our retention rate with our Gillette nurses that go through that program is around 80 or 90 percent, which is extraordinary,” Fitzgerald said.
Janell Oberlander, Gillette College CEO, said that the nursing program is a prime example of the good work that the college does for the community.
Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King recounted a comment she’d heard from a member of the nursing program, who had a baby on a Wednesday and was back in class by Friday of that same week, worried she’d lose her spot in the program..
“She knew she would get kicked out,” Carter- King said. “She said that there’s over a 100 people waiting to get in that program.”
Carter-King said the student referred to the program as “the best one in the state.”
Oberlander said that she’s heard similar accounts from other students.
“I can’t tell you how many babies I’ve gotten to hold from new nurses coming back from delivery two-days prior,” Oberlander said. “That’s how dedicated those students are. That’s how demanding those programs are. It’s pretty amazing.”
The CEO continued by saying the nursing program is only one way that the college lives up to its calling for training the workforce to provide skilled, capable, and educated workers.
As the college gets ready to celebrate 50 -years serving the Gillette community, its leaders recognize that change will be needed if the college is going to continue for another 50 years.
“It’s going to look differently than it does now, 10-to-15 years down the road,” Oberlander said. “We have to be prepared to take on that challenge.”
She hinted that the changes could include updating the facilities and potentially expanding health science programs, like nursing.
The college will be applying for a grant, she added, which should provide the school with $1 million for facility upgrades if awarded.
But whatever direction the college chooses to go is in the hands of its leaders, currently in the process of switching hands with the retirement of NWCCD President Dr. Paul Young in July. Former CEO Dr. Mark Englert has handed the reins over to Oberlander.
Regardless of the direction, Oberlander remains committed to the region’s workforce, thanks in part to her passion and a promise made to Englert before he retired.
“I promised him and I guaranteed him that we would continue the work of training the workforce in this community. That’s what I agreed to,” Oberlander said. “We will continue to train, and we will continue to provide talented, skilled workers.”