White Mountains Community College and Cottage Hospital Relaunch Nursing Education Program

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Longtime partnership reboots to respond to community needs in new geriatric psychiatric unit

Woodsville and Berlin, New Hampshire – A new 10-bed inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville will open in October to address an urgent need in the community while providing in-demand training to nursing students at White Mountains Community College (WMCC). Slated to begin in the spring of 2017, WMCC students in their second year of their Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree, may opt to complete clinical training and gain credits for their psychiatric nursing theory program at Cottage Hospital.

Cottage Hospital’s new Ray of Hope Geriatric Behavioral Health unit will meet an urgent community need for providing care for people 65 years and older with persistent or late onset behavioral health illnesses or concerns. For North Country residents, the closest such facilities are hours away by car.

“Our state’s aging population and lack of local inpatient behavioral health services for people of all ages in the North Country is of great concern not only for patients, but for the future workforce who will provide them care,” said Holly McCormack, MSN, chief nursing officer at Cottage Hospital. “Cottage Hospital’s new Ray of Hope Geriatric Behavioral Health unit will provide interdisciplinary care to patients while helping the next wave of nurses and healthcare providers gain specialized training in the assessment, treatment, rehabilitation, prevention and education surrounding behavioral health.”

This partnership is not the first time Cottage Hospital and WMCC have worked together. For the last 10 years, the hospital has been one of WMCC’s five clinical training sites where nursing students gain real-world training. The new geriatric psychiatric unit and increased enrollments at WMCC made the latest program partnership a win-win.

“Clinical affiliations with healthcare partners are an integral part of the curriculum at WMCC and across the Community College System of New Hampshire because of the diverse and unique services they offer,” said Emily MacDonald, MS, RN, professor and chair of WMCC’s Department of Nursing. “It is our obligation to provide students access to the full spectrum of healthcare disciplines.”

Full service community hospitals, such as Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster and Littleton Regional Healthcare offer students access to a wide range of nursing educational opportunities such as medical surgical nursing, critical care and emergency room nursing, while some specialized services, such as obstetrics and geriatric mental health, are only available in certain facilities.

All of WMCC’s  clinical affiliation sites play an essential role in its ASN program, which boasts an eight-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. In addition to the program’s clinical component, it consists of nursing, science, and general education courses, simulation labs, and may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.  Students who complete the ASN are prepared for and eligible to sit for the sate registered nurse licensure examination. The 2015 pass rate for WMCC students sitting for the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses was nearly 93 percent in 2015, and in 2014 (the most recent date for which data are available), more than 96 percent of WMCC alumni were employed.

To learn more about WMCC’s ASN program or how it works with community hospitals to provide exemplary nursing education for students, please contact MacDonald at 603-342-3028,  emacdonald@ccsnh.edu or visit wmcc.edu.

About WMCC

White Mountains Community College (WMCC) is located in Berlin, New Hampshire and is one of seven colleges in the Community College System of New Hampshire. WMCC offers Associate Degree and Certificate programs, plus training options, preparing students for 21st century job opportunities as well as transfer pathways to four year colleges and universities. WMCC is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Our courses are the most affordable in New Hampshire and our Littleton Academic Center makes us accessible to all students in the North Country Region. Courses are available day, evening and online. WMCC courses transfer to four-year colleges and universities in New Hampshire and across the country. The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the "65 by 25 Initiative," which calls for 65% of NH citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands.