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‘Great for the entire community’

By Toni Garrard Clay
It turns out that ETMC Athens and Trinity Valley Community College make quite a team. Last year, the two institutions received a $138,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which helped finance the creation of a remote classroom on ETMC property for TVCC students working on nursing degrees.

“TVCC wanted to expand opportunities for our students to get associate degrees in nursing,” explained Jerry King, vice president of Instruction at the college. “So now, because of this new classroom, fewer students have to drive to Kaufman for classes.”
The Athens classroom, which is located in the ETMC Education Center on Clinton Street, allows TVCC to increase the number of available spots for students seeking an associate degree in nursing, which is, according to Health Science Center Provost Helen Reid, the most sought-after degree at the college.

“We average 350 applicants for 150 slots,” Reid explained. “Because of this program, we can add some slots and draw more students from around this area.”

Two-way video conferencing The classroom features two-way video conferencing technology which allows students in Athens to interact with an instructor located in Kaufman or elsewhere. The theory portion of the class takes place in the classroom, while clinicals are conducted at ETMC Athens, as has been the case for many years.

“This is a great recruiting tool for us,” said ETMC Athens Assistant Administrator Adam Willmann. “We want to see more nurses in the field and more nurses stay here with us after graduating. It makes sense, especially given that so many already do their clinicals with us.”
ETMC Athens not only provided the classroom space, but renovated to make it possible and handled the technology setup.

“It’s been exciting to work with ETMC,” said King. “They’re great partners, and this class is important for many students. It will ultimately make a big difference in students’ lives.”
King and Reid both point out that, despite the economic woes of recent years, the demand for graduates from TVCC’s nursing program has remained high.

“If our graduates from the nursing program want a job, they’re available,” said King. “And these are jobs that pay well. ETMC is certainly a major employer.”
In May 2011, TVCC is expected to graduate its largest nursing class yet, with 148 on track to earn associate degrees.

“This partnership is great not only for ETMC and TVCC,” pointed out Willmann, “but for our entire community.”