Note: The following story appears in the summer issue of Hindsight alumni magazine. For more information about the Hinds Alumni Association, see the website.
It’s been 50 years and a world away for early faculty of the Associate Degree Nursing program at Hinds Community College.
The program was established on the Raymond Campus in one room of the Home Economics building in fall 1966. The first class had 26 students. The Hinds ADN program is celebrating its 50-year anniversary.
“At the time, we had no learning lab as we have today,” said Bobbie Anderson, who worked in the program for 24 years and was named the Jackson Campus-Nursing Allied Health Center’s first dean shortly after it was built. “They gave us one bed in the corner of the home ec lab (on the Raymond Campus) and one manikin.”
Long before computers and lifelike manikins that can sweat, it was strictly a world of chalk and slate for aspiring nurses.
Hinds Community College’s Associate Degree Nursing program is recognizing its 50th anniversary this year beginning with a Sept. 9 celebration, said Dr. Libby Mahaffey, dean for Nursing and Allied Health.
“Sept. 9 is the inaugural event in our year-long celebration of 50 years of associate degree nursing at Hinds Community College. The program has a rich heritage of providing excellent nurses throughout the past 50 years. Other events will be scheduled throughout the year to focus on our current students and alumni,” Mahaffey said.
Sponsors and other invited guests will have a luncheon at noon. “This celebration lunch will highlight alumni as well as former and current leaders of the program,” she said.
A come-and-go reception open to the community is 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both events will be in Room 9/10 of Anderson Hall at Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center at 1750 Chadwick Dr. in Jackson.
Sponsorships for these events are available and will assist in endowing the Hinds Community College Associate Degree Nursing Alumni Scholarship. Sponsor levels are Bronze, $100; Silver, $250 and Gold, $500. Other donations to the scholarship are also welcome and appreciated.
For more information about the sponsorships, please contact Alumni Coordinator Libby Posey at 601.857.3350, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the celebration events, please contact Libby Mahaffey at 601.376.4950, or by email at email@example.com.
“I started teaching at Hinds in 1975,” said Gloria Coxwell, who served as assistant dean of NAHC and director of division of ADN from 1993-2005. “Teaching tools consisted of a blackboard, a piece of chalk, and, on rare occasions, slides were available. Students furiously tried to write down every word that came out of the teacher’s mouth and memorize it for the test.”
Debra Spring, a 25-year instructor and Coxwell’s successor as assistant dean, remembers being the “sage on the stage” despite being only about eight years older than her first batch of students in August 1980.
“The students I taught early in my career accepted everything I said and tried their best to meet my every demand of them,” said Spring, now the dean of Alcorn State University’s nursing school. “Today’s student expects a rationale for all of the educational requirements and challenges faculty and administrators to review processes and procedures in keeping with achievement of educational outcomes. Not a bad thing, just different.”
The program’s first director was Eunice Pace. Regular academic courses were incorporated into nursing studies. By 1968, 18 had graduated from the original class.
In those days, Mississippi didn’t mandate nursing instructors have master’s degrees. Also, students had to practice their lessons with their own friends and relatives – even down to proper bathing techniques, Anderson said.
“When it came to injections, we had sterile equipment, so there was no infection involved with it, but we had to get volunteers from family members to allow students to give injections,” she said. “I was one of the volunteers, too. That was a big order for a faculty member to do.
“Once we did that, we went directly to the patient’s bedside and a faculty member would supervise each student.”
A warm atmosphere between instructor and student prevailed, but so too did a grueling course of study worthy only for serious students, said Terri Meadows (1980), a product of the ADN program and, currently, chief nursing officer at Merit Health Madison.
“During clinicals, when we’d apply our studies in a hospital setting, all students were required to have handwritten 3-by-5 cards with specific information on all drugs that would be administered to patients in the clinical setting,” Meadows said. “I recall one student arriving at clinical unprepared and was sent home due to lack of preparedness.
“No doubt, I had a fearful respect for the instructors. It was not an easy program. It required full commitment and dedication.”
Growing enrollment in the program’s second decade, coupled with stellar and qualified faculty, steadily built Hinds’ nursing program into a gold standard of sorts in the medical community. In 1978, the program was accredited nationally.
“Third year I was there, we doubled enrollment and doubled faculty. We were sitting in offices made for one person but had two or three faculty rotating in and out,” Anderson said.
In 1979, the Jackson Chamber of Commerce commissioned a study that revealed a shortage of nurses. It became obvious the program needed to have its own location. “It made sense for the college to take whatever offer they had, and that was the space at Hinds General (Hospital),” she said.
And up it went, in just two years following groundbreaking. The $4 million Nursing Allied Health Center, next to the hospital now called Merit Health Central, was completed in 1982 and at first featured a single, 51,000-square-foot facility for all nursing and allied health programs. In 1993, the main building was renamed Anderson Hall, for its longtime director and first dean of NAHC, and a 33,000-square-foot annex building was added to house a majority of allied health program courses and academic courses.
The program has continued to expand with the 2014 opening of the Ball Simulation Center, featuring cutting-edge technology in the way of video, audio and other equipment train more than 1,000 nursing and allied health students in five simulation labs, two medical surgical patient rooms, an emergency room, a childbirth simulation area, home care lab and four debriefing rooms.
More expansion is planned with the addition of 11.5 acres of nearby property and two buildings in a swap with the Hinds County Board of Supervisors. More teaching labs and programs are planned, plus additional parking space and a direct connection to the simulation center.
With that expansion has come enrollment growth. Freshman enrollment stood at 320 for 2015-16, with a total nursing and allied health student population of 1,114. Nursing faculty now numbers 45.
Through the physical expansions, the program’s architects and instructors point to a more valuable aspect to its standing in the community – trust.
“Hinds graduates had an excellent pass rate on the licensure exam and were highly recruited for employment by area hospitals,” Coxwell said. “Throughout the years this standard of excellence has not changed.
What has changed is that both graduate competencies and practice areas have expanded greatly. In addition to hospitals, graduates are now sought after for positions in a wide variety of settings such as home health, long-term care facilities and clinics.”
It’s a reputation built with demanding study that alums and instructors say still had room for lighthearted friendships.
“What I enjoyed most was our groups of 10 for clinicals,” Meadows said. “I was part of an awesome group of people. We were supportive of one another – studying together, eating together and enjoying a lot of laughter.”
For more information about Hinds’ nursing program see the website.
As Mississippi’s largest community college, Hinds Community College is a comprehensive institution offering quality, affordable educational opportunities with more than 170 academic, career and technical programs. With six locations in central Mississippi, Hinds enrolled nearly 11,500 credit students in fall 2015. To learn more, visit www.hindscc.edu or call 1.800.HindsCC.