Program allows high schoolers to move toward becoming LPNs

Union County high-school students can be licensed practical nurses within weeks of graduation thanks to a new pilot program at South Arkansas Community College—the first of its kind in the state.

A grant from the Arkansas Office of Skills Development has funded launch of the program, which allows high-school students to begin taking college nursing prerequisites as juniors, move into program-level college nursing course work as seniors and complete the program the summer following graduation. They can take the state licensing examination upon completion, meaning that the path is set for them to be able to begin work as practical nurses as young as age 18.

“We’re in a new era,” instructor Michelle Moseley, who directs the SouthArk program, said. “If they know that this is what they want to do, why not go ahead and do this while in high school? I would have, had it been an option for me.”

For the state’s part, the OSD—which is working with other institutions to bring this program to life in other parts of Arkansas—indicates that this effort is underway in order to combat nursing shortages seen throughout the U.S.

As the high-school students will be taking the exact same classes as the post-graduate college nursing students—and right alongside them—it is important to note, Moseley said, that those who pursue this route must be academically and emotionally capable of handling the work load.

“They have to be dedicated to their studies,” she said. “They’re going to have to work very hard and be self-disciplined.”

The program is prepared to accept up to 24 students in the prerequisite classes and up to 16 in the nursing classes, Moseley said.

Current sophomores at all Union County public high-school students are eligible pursue application and should speak with their guidance counselors for more information, Moseley said.

“I hope that this continues to blossom and that it will produce hard-working, caring nurses,” she said.