The health professions programs at Navarro College have revamped, reshuffled and relocated to allow more opportunities for students and to decrease commuter time. All of which resulted in the registered nurse program, one of the largest offered by the college, to migrate from the Corsicana campus to Waxahachie.

Dean of Health Professions Guy Featherston is quick to point out that the registered nurse program had outgrown the current facilities in Corsicana and, after he spoke with numerous students, realized they would benefit from a northern campus closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The C Building on the Waxahachie campus is now dedicated to health professions. It previously housed academic classrooms but has undergone renovations to create health-related classrooms and labs appropriate for the licensed vocational and registered nursing programs.

The RN program, initially based in Corsicana, has been around for about 20 years. Two weeks ago the first round of students started orientation at the Waxahachie campus.

“It’s not a new program, and we didn’t make it different. The program we had there, all of my students and all of my faculty moved to Waxahachie,” Featherston clarified.

Featherston expressed the relocation was essential for the college and the students.

Right now, out of the 151 students in the RN program, 73 percent hail from the DFW area. He further explained how acceptance into a nursing program is difficult, and the education is competitive; therefore, students will sacrifice a long drive for their ideal instruction.

“Our kids were driving from Dallas, going down I-45 to Corsicana to turn around and come back to clinical. We had class in the morning and clinical rotations in the afternoon," Featherston elaborated.

Featherston realized the commute for students was extensive — and expensive. The students are educated in classrooms and then work with simulated mannequins in labs before advancing to clinical rotations in hospitals. All seven main clinical sites and various locations are in Ellis County or north of it.

Since the move, only one student has dropped from the program as a result of the new commute but has since successfully transferred into another curriculum.

Another factor that played into the move was the RN program outgrowing the rooms available in Corsicana.

“I was pretty much at capacity in regards to the physical space," Featherston emphasized. "We could not grow our nursing program in Corsicana because we didn’t have the physical space. It’s a popular subject, and there is room to expand.”

The solution was “easy to recognize.” To gain the space and proximity, the move to Waxahachie was essential. He also mentioned the growth of Ellis County played a factor.

The lecture hall in Corsicana seated 115 students, and the clinical skills labs were up to capacity. Whereas, the Waxahachie campus has a 145-seat lecture hall and three skills labs.

“This move also allowed us to do — which is exciting to me — when we moved the RNs up to here, I still have that space in Corsicana. So what that meant, the licensed registered nurse program, which has the same issue — has space. Now I get to move into what was the RN classrooms.” Featherson elaborated. “I immediately was able to increase the number of students in the LVN program.”

At Waxahachie, the one-year, LVN program was housed initially in the A Building in a tight space. Now, the program was relocated to the C Building along with the other health professions programs. Through the expansion, more students can enroll in the LVN program, and additional faculty was hired.

“As we continue to move forward we will expand our nursing program,” Featherson reiterated.

This move was one out of five phases in the expansion of the health professions program. Next to make the transition is respiratory therapy, and Featherston also intends to establish a paramedic to RN bridge program.

For more information on the health profession programs, log onto https://www.navarrocollege.edu/academics.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450