Lincoln Land Community College: A new era for local nursing education begins – The State Journal-Register

When institutions come together to solve a problem, good things can happen. What started several years ago as a conversation regarding a critical community need led to the recent opening of a game-changing facility for local health care.

Memorial Health System, and other local health care providers, had multiple, unfilled nursing positions. Meanwhile, LLCC lacked the space to expand our nursing program. Could our institutions partner to impact this community challenge?

Yes. LLCC and Memorial leadership collaborated to ensure more students could enter LLCC’s nursing program that has been supplying quality nursing staff to area health care facilities for nearly half a century.

Launching a new era in local nursing education, we opened a state-of-the-art facility on the LLCC campus just in time for the start of this fall semester. The new space means 90 additional students can enroll in our nursing program each year, for a total of 215 new nursing students annually. Memorial Health System contributed $6.1 million to this project, allowing us to renovate the west wing of an existing campus building, install the latest nursing simulation equipment, and hire more faculty and staff to teach and serve our nursing students.

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We couldn’t be more thankful and thrilled as we celebrate the opening of this beautiful new facility. At the time of our initial conversation about the nursing shortage, and later the announcement of our partnership, little did we know a pandemic was on the horizon and the need for nurses would become even more acute. Our collaboration could not have come at a better time.

As Ed Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health System, said, “Throughout the pandemic, the public has come to appreciate more than ever the incredible dedication, expertise and heroism of the nursing profession. Unfortunately, our region continues to experience a nursing shortage that has made the last few months incredibly more challenging. The formal opening of this new LLCC Nursing Education Center is visible proof of the ongoing collaboration between LLCC and Memorial Health System to address the nursing shortage in this region.”

Touring the new facility with Mr. Curtis just prior to its opening, Marsha Prater, senior vice president and chief nursing officer of Memorial Health System, commented, “As a nurse for over 40 years, I am thrilled to see the caliber of this learning environment and the tremendous support it will provide for the next generation of nurses in our region. Memorial is proud to employ so many LLCC nursing graduates here in Springfield and at our hospitals and clinics across the region.”

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Having graduated nearly 4,000 LLCC nursing students, there’s a good chance the next time you encounter a local nurse, they are one of our alumni. Thanks to our community partner, Memorial Health System, the number of graduates will grow even more quickly. As conditions allow, we will be inviting them and all of the general public to tour our new Nursing Education Center and help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of our outstanding nursing program.

We honor all nurses and health care workers this Labor Day weekend for their heroic and selfless work during this challenging time.

Charlotte Warren is president of Lincoln Land Community College.