Instructor Kate Roman held the DynaMap in front of her "RN Return to Practice" class at the Northern Virginia Community College medical campus in Springfield. It was just one class that's part of the college's Continuing Education and Workforce Development program.
The DynaMap is a computerized tool that takes four patient readings including temperatures and blood pressure.
"They would have never known how to use this," Roman said of the brand-new device. "It saves nurses time. We used to use four different pieces of equipment; now we use one."
Learning to use the DynaMap was one lesson in the nursing class that helps former nurses get back into the program or gives current nurses a crash course on new equipment. The eight students in the six-week class will be ready to re-enter the nursing field at the end of the session.
"This gives them an opportunity to get their feet wet without being thrown in a full nursing situation," said Roman.
That goal is echoed throughout all of the Continuing Education and Workforce Development programs, which are geared to fast-track students to actual jobs instead of going the full route and years of classes. A regular curriculum of core courses and medical specialties are available at the campus as well.
Back in the 1980s, the nursing field was overcrowded, and new graduates were unable to get a job in their field of study, said Tammy McBride, Continuing Education and Workforce Development program developer.
"They've been out of the market or in another field," McBride said. "This class acts as a brush-up or review, to make their nursing skills more marketable."
The program offers 54 classes in various categories. Training includes dental, physician, medical billing, nursing care, pharmacy and personal health, and wellness.
Fairfax resident Glenda Mangano is one of the nursing students who has been away from the profession for a while. Six years ago, Mangano worked in the critical-care unit at Inova Fairfax.
"My children are older, so I wanted to return to the [nursing] practice," said Mangano.
THE PHARMACY Technician class, for example, is another area in which students can get training that will lead directly to a job, or just get experience in the field to see if they want to pursue a full doctor of pharmacy program. Herndon resident William Agroh was doing just that.
"This was an opportunity to feel how the field is really like," Agroh said.
As part of the 16-week class, the students go to actual pharmacies to work. The college lines up a program with Giant, Rite Aid, Kaiser Permanente and Inova Alexandria Hospital for the students to have a hands-on learning opportunity. Many times, that experience leads to a job, according to Mahnaz Abhari, teacher and doctor of pharmacy.
"They're providing a training site for our students," Abhari said.
Aruna Vankayala earned a pharmacist degree in India but needs to be certified in the United States in order to work. She is taking the class to work in the field as she studies for the test. Maoli Chen was a physician in China for 20 years but is getting recertified as well.
"It's focused on the information they need to succeed in the marketplace," Agroh said.
The pharmacy class goes from Jan. 18 to June 8, and then the students must pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam. A doctor of pharmacy degree takes six years of study.