Bucks County Community College, the region’s leader in healthcare education for more than 50 years, celebrated the graduation of 28 future health care heroes from its practical nursing program June 26.
As has become the custom amid the global pandemic, the pomp and circumstance consisted of a virtual ceremony that aired at 8 a.m. that morning on the college’s YouTube channel, followed by visits to each student’s home by college faculty. The ceremony, which featured speeches by faculty and a tribute to each student, can be viewed at https://bit.ly/BucksPNprog
About an hour later, Michelle Rue Camp, director of the Practical Nursing Program, and faculty members began a day-long series of deliveries to each student’s home, driving from Perkasie in Upper Bucks County down to Bensalem and Bristol in Lower Bucks County, and over to Northeast Philadelphia and Ewing, New Jersey as well.
Each graduate received a gift bag with a certificate of completion, graduation cap and tassel, nursing pin, and replica oil lamp, symbol of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing. In addition, each was presented with a congratulatory lawn sign.
Rue Camp said she wanted to “go the extra mile” – literally and figuratively – to visit each graduate because of the extraordinary circumstances they faced, moving to remote learning since the coronavirus closed down college buildings in March.
“This year has been like no other. Students and faculty had to adapt on a moment’s notice to an entirely new way of learning in a program that is already accelerated, intense, and requires much dedication to complete successfully,” said Rue Camp. “And they did it, all while dealing with the stress of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, juggling mandatory overtime, home schooling children, and so much more. We wish heartfelt congratulations to the newest round of health care heroes.”
Indeed, more than half the students were already working at health care facilities while attending the full-time, year-long program, noted Rue Camp. Graduates ranged in age from their early-20s to mid-50s, reflecting both those seeking first-time careers and career changers. The class also included a pair of relatives, a brother- and sister-in-law.
While in the program, students completed clinical rotations at facilities throughout the area, including Abington Hospital, St. Mary Rehabilitation Hospital, Neshaminy Manor Nursing Home, Fox Subacute Care, and more.
Most graduates already have jobs lined up as demand for nurses surged amid the pandemic, said Camp. They will take the NCLEX exam to become Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, within a few months. Last year’s class had a 100% pass rate. They can practice as Graduate Practical Nurses, or GPNs, until they pass the exam.
Since beginning the program in 2002, Bucks County Community College has graduated more than 680 practical nursing students. To learn more, visit bucks.edu/healthcare/pn