Dr. Dryer recipient of national leadership award
NORTH EAST, Md: For more than a decade, the Cecil College nursing program has ranked among the best in Maryland for nursing programs. This success is possible through the dedication and commitment of the program’s faculty and staff, who receive just as much committed support from the head of the academic division at the College.
Starting in 2007, first as Director of Nursing, then Dean of Nursing and Health Profession and since 2016, that support has been provided by Vice President of Academic Programs Dr. Christy Dryer, who has been the steward of excellence for the nursing program and an advocate for the Associate of Science degree in Nursing and the Practical Nursing Certificate on local, state and national levels. This dedication made her the ideal recipient of the Bobbie Anderson Leadership Award presented by the Organization for Associate Degree in Nursing (OADN).
The Bobbie Anderson Leadership Award honors the inaugural president of the OADN, the national voice and a pivotal resource for community college nursing education and the associate degree pathway, which promotes leadership, collaboration, and advocacy to enrich further nursing education and the communities they serve. Anderson was the catalyst behind the movement to deliver quality health care. This prestigious award is presented annually to an educator or nursing program administrator who has demonstrated exceptional leadership within their institution, community, and at the state and national levels.
“I was honored to be recognized for my work regarding associate degree nursing. I remain passionate about this outstanding pathway into the profession, providing an avenue for individuals who otherwise may not be able to become a nurse, while also meeting our region’s workforce and health care needs,” said Dr. Dryer.
Under Dr. Dryer’s guidance, Cecil College has procured a faculty of exceptional educators whose commitment and focus is student success. Led by Dean of Health, Human and Business Services Dr. Nancy Norman-Marzella, the nursing faculty includes Assistant Director of Nursing Dr. Roxanne Rash, Associate Professor Dr. Lauren Dawson, Assistant Professor Amy Smythe, Professor Dr. Shirley Gharbin, Associate Professor Mary Knarr, and Professor Dr. Cynthia Horton. With four of six full-time faculty holding doctorate credentials, there are also an additional 11 adjunct instructors with advanced degrees who are full-time practitioners in the discipline of nursing.
Another ingredient for the program’s success is the curriculum, which incorporates theory and practice into each nursing course. This learning formula provides students with a hands-on approach regarding experience, beginning in the first semester.
“Many factors contribute to our program’s success over the years. First are our hard-working students and faculty. Next is the structure of our curriculum, where our theory courses are tied to students’ clinicals to develop competencies through explanatory activities and practice. What students learn in class, they apply in clinical at the same time,” says Dean of Health and Human Services Dr. Nancy Norman-Marzella.
Providing one of the leading two-year nursing programs in Maryland, Cecil College is at the forefront of addressing the national nursing workforce shortage. Related to a the combination of burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic and an aging population in the health care workforce, skilled nursing graduates, are vital for tomorrow’s workforce. The median age of a Registered Nurse (RN) is 52 years old, with 19 percent of R.N.s aged 65 or older, according to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics. In response to the nursing workforce needs, Cecil College has also started an accelerated associate degree nursing program, providing another pathway into the profession of nursing for individuals who already hold a degree in another field and want to transition into nursing.
“Community College nursing programs are critical to meeting the workforce need for nurses in Maryland. Cecil College is preparing nurses to meet the challenges of today’s healthcare environment,” said Cecil College President Dr. Mary Way Bolt.
In the 2021 academic year, 48 percent of nursing graduates were from Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau projects that more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed from 2020 to 2030 and that employment opportunities for nurses will grow nine percent faster than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.
Dr. Dryer’s leadership ensures Cecil College’s nursing program meets or exceeds the Maryland State Board of Nursing standards and is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Cecil College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
This commitment to excellence is reflected in the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN exam) class success rates for Cecil College. Along with a 100 percent pass-rate for cohorts in 2018, 2019, and 2022, Cecil’s nursing pass-rate was above the 90 percent mark from 2015 to 2023.
Nursing graduates work in many fields, from critical care and home healthcare to surgical environments with approximately 20 percent going on to pursue their bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing before seeking employment, according to Dr. Nancy Norman-Marzella
As an advocate for associate degree in nursing programs and ADN graduates, Dr. Dryer emphasizes that an associate degree in nursing provides a quality education and an affordable pathway into the nursing profession and often lays the groundwork for future education as many hospital systems and healthcare facilities provide financial assistance for nurses to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and beyond. An added benefit is ADN graduates can take the licensing exam and start working in the field within two years upon successful completion of the program.
Located within 10 miles of Delaware and Pennsylvania borders, Cecil College is a regional workforce provider in healthcare.
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