It’s All About the National Board Exam for Nursing Students

Taylor Parham

Taylor Smith

July 23, 2016

CHICKASHA – Taylor Smith and Taylor Parham share a name. They also recently shared a classroom. The two have similar work ethics and a passion to help others.

They also took vastly different paths to arrive at the same place.

Smith, 24, of Rush Springs, and Parham, 20, of Chickasha, both recently completed the Practical Nursing program at Canadian Valley Technology Center.

Parham completed several months ago and has been working at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany. Smith takes her national board examination next week.

Completion of the program qualifies students to take the exam, which is administered by the national council for the state Board of Nursing.

CV Tech’s Practical Nursing program has existed since its inception in 1970, but it was not added at the Chickasha Campus until 1991.

Parham is a 2013 Chickasha High School graduate. She enrolled in CV Tech’s Graphic Design program while in high school but decided on a different career path. She said her former instructor, Traci McNeff (now a counselor at CV Tech), was instrumental in her choosing to return and pursue LPN licensure.

Course completion varies. Practical Nursing Director Rhonda Reherman said most students finish within 20 to 22 months. Often, she said, students opt for an LPN program before considering a registered nurse (RN) program.

“The affordable cost of LPN programs is a plus, and the difficulty of getting into RN programs has contributed to the popularity and need for LPN programs,” Reherman said.

“RN programs typically are based on a point system. LPNs earn points toward acceptance into a RN program. It also sets them up to fast-track in the bridge program offered by colleges and universities.”

Parham said she needed 22 months to complete the course, but she said the results have been very gratifying in terms of a good job as an LPN case manager at The Children’s Center. Mostly, she assists with discharge planning and helps resolve issues with private insurance companies.

Smith took a much more aggressive path to course completion.

“I finished in 11 months,” she said. “I’m a morning person, so I would usually wake up at 4 a.m. to read material before school.”

Canadian Valley’s program is self-paced and is an open entry/open exit course. This means students can enter at any time and can finish more quickly as they complete the required curriculum, tests and clinical rotations.

Smith grew up in Illinois but relocated with her family to Oklahoma in 2006. Her aunt is a nurse, and she admits that created career intrigue for her. During the birth of Smith’s middle child, however, a career path came into sharp focus.

“I had a labor and delivery nurse at Norman Regional Healthplex who impacted my life,” she said. “It was her care and attention that got me excited,” Smith said. “I cannot remember her name, but I knew that is exactly what I wanted to do.”

Both Parham and Smith attended the program tuition-free using the school’s Next Step Scholarship. Students who live within the district qualify if they meet attendance and grade requirements. Tuition is waived for anyone who meets the criteria and is under age 24. Books, exam fees and scrubs are not covered.

“I have sacrificed a lot of mom time for school, but it has been worth it,” Smith said. “My husband is in the oil field, so my mother-in-law has really helped us a lot with our three children.

“I plan to work at a hospital, and I’m going to keep going with school. My ultimate goal is to become an RN.”

Parham said nursing students have to be dedicated.

“You have to put in the work,” she said. “You can’t just expect to sit and hope that it comes to you.

“But I have seen so many doors and opportunities open to me.”

She finished the program last September, took the board exam on Oct. 1 and was hired on Oct. 5.