Nursing Program Celebrates 50 Years of Enrollment

This year, Elgin Community College in Illinois is celebrating 50 years of successfully training students in its nursing program. During the program’s long history, 3,390 students have graduated and gone on to enjoy careers in nursing.

Elgin Community College (ECC) began in 1949 and did not feature a nursing program right away. Instead, anyone interested in nursing would take the necessary classes at Elgin’s Sherman Hospital and take necessary prerequisites such as anatomy, biology, and chemistry at ECC. The demand for the college to host its own nursing program, in conjunction with a new state law that allowed for community colleges to offer nursing degrees, allowed ECC to introduce their own program in 1965. They received accreditation in 1969.

Since then, the college has gone through changes to better equip its students. ECC is now partnered with two dozen clinics for on-the-spot training. “We have a long list of hospitals that take our students for clinical hours. Our program wouldn’t exist without those partnerships. It’s really pivotal,” said Katherine Sawyer, executive director of Institutional Advancement at ECC.

The program accepts 120 students each year, and there is usually a waiting list to be drawn from if a spot opens up. The program has an 80% graduation rate from the two-year program with a history of successful placement in the field within a year of graduation.

Within the next year, the program will be revisiting the requirements to enter the program. They’ll be introducing a prerequisite of two psychology courses, as well as reconfiguring their curriculum to be more conceptual rather than fact-based memorization. “We’re helping them develop critical reasoning skills,” said Wendy Miller, Dean of Health Professions. “It’s taken us several years to get to this point. It’s very exciting. It’s like a whole new paradigm for them.”