With classes starting this week at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, two newly appointed program chairs will be at the helm of the campus’ two nursing programs.
Theresa Fontaine of Alma will serve as chair of the new Registered Nursing program, which was approved earlier this year by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Ester Leonard, also of Alma, is the new chair of the Practical Nursing program, taking over for Janet Mickens of Van Buren, who is retiring.
Leonard said, “I feel very honored to be asked to serve as the Program Chair for the PN program. I also realize that I have some mighty big shoes to fill.”
Arkansas Tech-Ozark previously only offered a Technical Certificate in Practical Nursing that qualifies students to test to become a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. The new Associate of Applied Science in Nursing will allow students to become a registered nurse, or RN.
Fontaine said the addition of the RN program came as a result of industry demands, as well as student requests.
“The community has let us know that they would like to have an increased number of RNs in this area, and the students have let us know that they would like to have a program that lets them accomplish that goal – without having to leave home,” she said.
“We look forward to being able to serve both of those needs.”
Arkansas Tech-Ozark’s nursing program is unique in that it allows current LPNs to obtain an RN degree, which allows them to transition into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the main Russellville campus, and then its Master of Science in Nursing if they so choose.
Because Arkansas Tech’s main campus offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing, students who start on the Ozark Campus will be able to take all of the required instruction to obtain their bachelor’s or master’s within the Arkansas Tech system.
Fontaine said, “I’m thrilled about getting the chance to lead this new program. I look forward to working with LPNs wanting to further their education by becoming registered nurses.”
Leonard, who wants to seek accreditation through the National League of Nursing, said, “Over the years, this program has grown and changed to meet the needs of our students and the community. My goal is to continue in that tradition.”
More information about Arkansas Tech-Ozark’s nursing programs can be found at www.atu.edu/ozark.