Wake Forest Baptist Health and Davidson-Davie Community College partner to provide nursing apprenticeships

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2021

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BERMUDA RUN & LEXINGTON — Wake Forest Baptist Health and the newly rebranded Davidson-Davie Community College have partnered to help improve the nursing shortage affecting health care systems in our region. The new program is the first Registered Nurse Apprenticeship program in North Carolina to be approved by the Department of Labor. The first group of students is in the process of completing their apprenticeship and have been split between Davie Medical Center and Lexington Medical Center, two community hospitals within the Wake Forest Baptist Health system.

The current class of four aspiring registered nurses (RNs) graduated from the community college with their LPN certification last summer. These RNs in training are currently employed by Wake Forest Baptist Health as LPNs, and they will transition to RN status in July 2022. The true benefit of the program is to expedite the previous timing for going from LPN to RN status. Currently that takes three years, and this apprenticeship, with the region’s only academic health system, will instead allow these students to graduate with their RN degree in 24 months. This is possible, without affecting the quality of training, because these nurses are able to receive their training in a hospital/acute care setting, which is unique in that most LPNs have to receive this training in slower-paced medical environments, such as a clinic or nursing home setting.

“We are always looking for ways to improve and increase the recruitment and retention of registered nurses to help us care for our patients,” said Kim Stanbery, chief nursing officer at Davie Medical Center. “While this is something we have wanted to do for quite some time, the pandemic has only increased the need for nurses. Our hope is that these new RNs will be with Wake Forest Baptist Health for years to come.”

Darrin Hartness, president of Davidson-Davie Community College, stated, “We have a great deal of respect for the quality of care that Wake Forest Baptist Health provides its patients, and we can obviously relate directly to their passion for academics. This partnership is an ideal pairing of organizations to continue to grow nursing expertise in the region.”

“We are proud of our relationship with Davidson-Davie Community College, and it is a great opportunity for our colleagues at Davie Medical Center and here at Lexington Medical Center to work together to train these clinicians of tomorrow,” said Clyde Bristow, chief nursing officer at Lexington Medical Center. “This pandemic has been difficult on all of our heroes, and we hope this program can provide some necessary reinforcements for us all.”

““This apprenticeship is a critical component of addressing the nursing shortage in our community,” said Holly Myers, dean of health sciences at the college. The opportunity to work in an acute care setting accelerates their learning and helps them earn that associate degree faster.”