HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Wallace State Community College is celebrating a grand achievement with the notification that its Department of Nursing Education (DNE) has earned the National League for Nursing’s (NLN) prestigious designation as a Center of Excellence (COE) in Nursing EducationTM for 2016-2020.

Schools of nursing apply for COE status based on demonstrated and sustained excellence in faculty development, nursing education research, or student learning and professional development. Wallace State was one of only 15 nursing programs recognized with the distinction and will be formally recognized in September at the NLN’s 2016 Education Summit in Orlando, Fla.

“The NLN is proud to recognize these schools and organizations that are doing the outstanding work that sets them apart from others,” said NLN president Dr. Anne Bavier.

“By publicly acknowledging these best practices, we promote the preparation of a diverse, culturally competent nursing workforce to deliver safe, effective patient care in our complex, dynamic health care environment,” added NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone.

Wallace State’s COE designation was based on its efforts in “Creating Environments that Enhance Student Learning and Professional Development.”

“I am honored that the Department of Nursing Education has been recognized by the National League for Nursing with the designation as an NLN Center of Excellence for 2016-2020,” said Deborah Hoover, director of the Wallace State Nursing program. “It is a testimony to the sustained efforts of the WSCC faculty and staff to fulfill the highest nursing education standards and pave the way for illuminating a “culture of possibility” for students and graduates every day. WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics fosters an atmosphere of high achievement, and it is fulfilling to strive to develop innovative methods to develop student learning and professional development in this arena. It is a privilege to work in an environment where excellence is not only valued but expected by everyone involved.”

The Wallace State Community College Department of Nursing Education “dares to dream of the possibilities that can happen when a program melds passion, resources, and an innovative faculty together to challenge students who are motivated to pursue nursing as their calling,” Hoover added.

With the outpouring of interest from universities and health care industry providers Wallace State has received since its new School of Nursing and Center for Science opened in 2014, especially for its state-of-the-art hospital simulation center, the nursing faculty felt inspired to compete for the distinction this year. Their only concern: the application process is a rigorous, ambitious undertaking any year and was made more so by the department’s recent transition to the new facility. But Dr. Vicki Karolewics encouraged them to apply anyway, never doubting they had what it took.

“As a faculty, you habitually address every single day and every single student as an opportunity for excellence, and because of that habitual attitude toward nothing less that excellences, you have individually and collectively earned the recognition as a Center of Excellence,” said Dr. Karolewics. “I am so very proud of you.”

Wallace State nursing program has consistently received outstanding results on board exams and licensure rates, outperforming its peers in the system and recently ranking higher even than most of its university counterparts in the state. Those scores are consistently higher than the national average, as well. The program’s Practical Nursing program received recognition from Nursing.org as the #1 program in the nation for its licensure pass rate. The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Hoover as the Healthcare Professional of the Year.

“With a strong commitment to provide comfortable, novel learning environments, develop a state-of-the-art simulation center, collaborate closely with clinical partners, and engage in community service through multiple programs, WSCC DNE seeks to disseminate excellence in nursing education,” Hoover said.

As part of the application process, the department created an extensive report focusing the six criteria by which the NLN based its decision for recognizing the college as a Center of Excellence. The criteria included developing students’ values and professional development; developing innovative program designs; developing curricula that assists students in reaching their goals; encouraging collaboration between faculty and students; encouraging community involvement among faculty and students; and developing and sustaining dynamic learning environments.

Some of the ways the program met those criteria include the annual Let’s Pretend Hospital, where area first graders are introduced to the hospital environment in an effort to decrease anxiety and fear should they be faced with treatment in the future as well as information on how to stay safe and healthy. Other efforts were the implantation of the Nursing Puppetry program through Children’s of Alabama and its inclusion in the SWELL program, which is an outreach program to elementary school students in the area to teach them Safety and Wellness Education for Lifestyle Learning.

Wallace State Community College is the only community college in the state of Alabama to receive this distinction as a Center of Excellence and is one of only two institutions of higher education in the state to earn the honor.

NLN Centers of Excellence are expected to exemplify the League’s core values: caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence. COE faculty bear a responsibility to share their experience, knowledge, and wisdom for the benefit of everyone in nursing education. They are expected to provide guidance and be available as sounding boards to other nursing programs that aim to achieve COE status.

As a COE school, Wallace State students will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on what it means to them to be part of a COE-designated nursing program and why. Each year’s winner is recognized at the COE presentation and their essay published in the fall issue of the NLN Report.

The NLN is dedicated to excellence in nursing; the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. The NLN offers professional development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 40,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members. NLN members represent nursing education programs across the spectrum of higher education, and health care organizations and agencies.

Wallace State Community College’s Department of Nursing Education offers certificate and degree programs, with a three-semester program for a certificate in practical nursing and a five-semester program for an associate in science degree in nursing. This fall, the DNE adopts a new curriculum that will allow each student completing their first three semesters to earn their certification in practical nursing and continue through the program for their associate in science degree in nursing.

For more information about Wallace State’s Nursing program, visit www.wallacestate.edu or call 256.352.8000.

Wallace State Nursing students work through a simulation in the School of Nursing and Center for Science’s Simulation Center, the state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2014.

Wallace State Nursing students work through a simulation in the School of Nursing and Center for Science’s Simulation Center, the state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2014.

The state-of-the-art School of Nursing and Center for Science at Wallace State Community College.

The state-of-the-art School of Nursing and Center for Science at Wallace State Community College.

The annual Let’s Pretend Hospital hosted each year by Wallace State Community College Nursing program welcomes first-graders to teach them about safety, healthy habits and to prepare them if they ever need to go to the hospital.

The annual Let’s Pretend Hospital hosted each year by Wallace State Community College Nursing program welcomes first-graders to teach them about safety, healthy habits and to prepare them if they ever need to go to the hospital.

A Wallace State Nursing student practices using a puppet as part of the Children’s of Alabama Kids on the Block Puppetry program. Through the program, students visit area schools to teach children safe and healthy habits.

A Wallace State Nursing student practices using a puppet as part of the Children’s of Alabama Kids on the Block Puppetry program. Through the program, students visit area schools to teach children safe and healthy habits.

Deborah Hoover, director of the Wallace State Community College Department of Nursing Education.

Deborah Hoover, director of the Wallace State Community College Department of Nursing Education.