By J.R. Tidwell / Editor
The Clanton Advertiser
Faculty and staff at the Chilton-Clanton Campus of Jefferson State Community College held a small celebration and walk-through of the facility on Oct. 25 in honor of the campus’s 10th anniversary.
Campus Division Chair Ashley Kitchens led a tour of the facility, which included stops at the library and nursing labs.
“I came down here in 2012, about four years after they had started down here,” Kitchens said. “When I came we had around 250 students. Since I have been here, it has grown by 500-plus students. I love these kids, and I think they appreciate (the campus) being here close to home.”
According to information passed out by the school, the Clanton campus started with 62 students at the McKinnon building in town. Now, the college has over 750 students enrolled for the Fall 2018 semester.
“We have currently graduated 127 nursing students,” Kitchens said. “We are on our seventh class, which is our largest class with 38 kids. Our nursing program is a two-year degree and is the same equivalent RN as any other program, say UAB, offers. You have that same licensure.
“Students take their basic classes, then they get into nursing depending on a very rigorous application process. These students go through real-life situations out here. All of our instructors are nurses and have real-world experience. They really get them comfortable, because some of these students come in and have never seen puke or nastiness, what have you. They tell them war stories.”
Over 120 of those 750-plus students are part of the dual enrollment program.
“It is a major asset,” said Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin. “We are very blessed to have the relationship that we have with Jeff State. The students don’t even realize what an advantage it is to be able to come out here and take classes. We are very fortunate, and we always look forward to working with them.”
The nursing labs at Jeff State have been decorated for Halloween and temporarily renamed “Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab.” While the decorating may have changed, nursing students were still hard at work learning their intended profession during the tour.
Students were put into a room with two “patients” in hospital beds and tasked with listing what was wrong with the scenario.
“We are constantly stressing in class that we do not want a robot nurse,” said nursing professor Chris Forbes. “We want nurses who can critically think, be able to make judgments and do the right thing. We are very proud of what we have been able to establish down here.”
Kitchens summed up the benefits of attending a community college at the end of the tour.
“Jeff State is an affordable and easy way to get a start in college, whether you are going to go into a workforce field or your are going to transfer to (pursue) a four-year degree,” she said. “It’s great that it’s in the community because we have schools all around here, and it’s an easy way to transition into a career or a larger school.”