Not Your Usual Rodeo

Not Your Usual Rodeo

Amy J. Chaffin, PhD, RN, CNS, B-C, Professor, College of Southern Nevada
Sherry Atkins, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, Director of Nursing, College of Southern Nevada

Published August 2023

While the annual Las Vegas, Nevada, rodeo brings people to town from all over the West, the Nursing Program at College of Southern Nevada (CSN) brings people to it from all over the world. To walk through the halls of the Nursing building is to walk through the halls that echo conversations from many nations, i.e., easy to hear conversations in Spanish, Russian, Filipino (Tagalog), or Chinese. All are welcome at our rodeo.

A rodeo is a traditional western event that represents preparation, challenges, awards, and, yes, sometimes getting tossed off a horse and getting back on again. Anyone who completed nursing school can probably tell stories in some or all of those categories.

While the majority of students at CSN are enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing Program, the Nursing Department also offers programs for CNA, LPN, LPN-RN, Medic to LPN, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and courses for RN and LPN Refresher.  The cultural experiences that students bring with them stem anywhere from military service in foreign war efforts to previous healthcare experience with ESL (English as a Second Language) populations.

Students who dream of becoming a nurse, typically encounter the realities of a nursing program and make adjustments, starting with the first semester. Many CSN students are the first person in their family to attend college which means that lengthy readings, early morning clinicals, and re-writing care plans can be harsh. However, to help them ‘get back on the horse’ as the saying goes, their challenges are confronted by faculty with understanding, consequences, and a focus on lesson learned: First tardy results in verbal warning; second tardy results in written warning; and third tardy results in 3% deduction to final course grade and cannot be appealed (waived). Every tardy after that is another 3% deduction to the final course grade (CSN, 2023b). Lesson learned? It is a nursing behavior to be on time.

How to get students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures through four semesters of Nursing and ready for the realities of the rodeo of life as a nurse? Faculty accomplish this by focusing on specific barriers that are part of many nursing programs today, for example, English as a second language (ESL) (Pool, Day, & Ridley, 2019). According to Menon (2022), other barriers can include “the cost of a college education, inadequate primary and secondary educational preparation, admission policies, and limited diversity in leadership and faculty.”

CSN is always ready to meet these needs. The college offers scholarships, grants, and a dedicated Financial Aid Department. To confront inadequate primary and secondary educational preparation, the college provides a Writing Center and a Student Success Center. The Nursing Program is in the College of Health Sciences and has its own pre-admission advisor to assist students in their planned sequence of pre-requisite courses. Once admitted to the Nursing Program, students must meet with their faculty advisor before each semester and have their GPA and transcript reviewed in preparation for having all requirements met when they apply for graduation in their final semester.

Las Vegas has a rich history of multi-cultural leadership and the Nursing Department proudly reflects this history with a diverse faculty. The value of this very important fact? Every day, every class, students can see that success is possible as demonstrated by directors, professors, and instructors who are their administrators, lecturers, lab instructors, clinical instructors—and most important—their role models (Dawes, 2019; McNeal, 2019).

Some participants take a rough ride at a rodeo and the same can be said for some moments in nursing school. There are good days, there are bad days. Holding students to standards they have never encountered before can be daunting for the student and the faculty. With a focus on learning knowledge, skills, and a professional attitude, faculty willingly meet with students to guide them toward developing nursing behaviors and learning to think like a nurse (ACEN, 2023).

Beyond the classroom, CSN Nursing faculty promote student involvement in multicultural healthcare-related activities in the community by encouraging students to staff health fairs, stand down events for homeless and veteran populations, and blood drives. Faculty contribute too by offering education to the Las Vegas community, e.g., teaching Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers how to communicate with the mentally ill whom they meet on a daily basis.

Founded in 1971, the nursing school remains the largest RN nursing program in the state of Nevada. With a current RN NCLEX pass rate of 95.74% (Nevada State Board of Nursing, 2023), it is a program that twice yearly provides nurses to the Las Vegas community, the state of Nevada, and neighboring Western states.

ACEN Standard 1 Mission and Administrative Capacity, includes Criterion 1.1 which requires that the “mission and philosophy of the nursing education unit are congruent with the core values, mission, and goals of the governing organization” (ACEN, 2023). This basic statement is demonstrated every day in the many student interactions of CSN Nursing faculty who reflect the mission of the college, “…to empowers our students and community to achieve, succeed, and prosper” (CSN, 2023a). With a commitment to seeing the next generation of nurses achieve, succeed, and prosper, CSN Nursing faculty will gladly tell you that nursing school is not your usual rodeo but it is a great ride and a rewarding one too.

Works Cited

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). (2023). ACEN 2023 Standards and criteria. Author.

College of Southern Nevada (CSN). (2023a). Mission statement. Author.

College of Southern Nevada (CSN). (2023b). NURS 243 Mental Health Nursing, Course Syllabus, Spring 2023. Author.

Dawes, T. (Fall, 2019). The mutual benefit of utilizing nursing students in a nurse-managed free clinic. Association of Black Nursing Faculty Foundation Journal (ABNFFJ), 113-117.

McNeal, G.J., (Fall, 2019). Implementing interprofessional team-based training for diverse student populations using a person-centered conceptual framework. Association of Black Nursing Faculty Foundation Journal (ABNFFJ), 96-108.

Menon, U. (March 01, 2022). Diversity in nursing begins at the student level. ONS Voice, 15.

Nevada State Board of Nursing (NSBN). (2023). RN quarterly NCLEX pass rates. Author.

Pool, L., Day, L., & Ridley, S. (2019). Mountain climbing: The journey for students with English as an additional language in a concept-based Nursing curriculum. Whitireia Journal of Nursing, Health and Social Services 26/20, 28-36.

About the Authors

Amy J. Chaffin, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, is a Professor in the Nursing Program at College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada. She is Course Coordinator for NURS 243 Mental Health Nursing and has served as a member of the Nursing Department ACEN Committees for Standards 1, 4, and 5. She volunteers to teach at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and instructs officers on communicating with and developing empathy for the mentally ill.

Sherry Akins, DNP, RN, is Director, Nursing Program, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada. She recently served on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) winter 2023 NGN Item Writing Team in Chicago, Illinois. She is also a member of the Nevada State Board of Nursing (NSBN) Education Advisory Committee (EAC). She serves as a peer reviewer for Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).