Nursing college starts classes in Largo hospital

Posted at 5:36 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 17:36:29-04
A local hospital is taking its teaching mission a step further, hoping it helps fill a huge need for nurses. Jersey College School of Nursing is now holding classes and clinicals inside Largo Medical Center, and the program has a unique, fast-track approach.
Marnie Jones is currently working as a certified nursing assistant at Largo Medical Center..
"I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field, and I started out at the hospital here as a patient transporter in the ER. The nurses there awakened something in me that I had no idea was there," Jones said.
And now she's attending nursing school in the hospital. To help meet the growing demand for nurses, Largo Medical Center is now home to a campus of Jersey College's School of Nursing.
"It's kind of our mission of growing our own a little bit and really wanting to get our employees to go back to nursing school and provide that opportunity for them here," said Brenda Simpson, Largo Medical Center chief nursing officer.
At any given time, Largo Medical Center has 20 to 40 open nursing jobs. So the hospital is hoping more people like Marnie Jones will take advantage of the chance to move up in the medical field by enrolling in nursing school through Jersey College. The program is pretty unique, too. It exposes students to several fields of nursing and shows them exactly what the job is like right away.
"They go right into clinicals that very first week. So they have that hands-on. We have two clinical instructors who are working with them," said Betty Van Stedum, Jersey College program administrator.
It's also an accelerated program, with the ability to complete your nursing degree in just two years. And once they graduate, students can easily transition into a nursing career in the same place where they attended school.
"They already know the facility. They already know what to do. They know our patients. They know our physicians, our staff, our residents. So it's truly a home for them from the very beginning," Simpson said.
The hospital says ideally it would love to have a nursing student for every patient in the hospital, helping the students learn while offering the best care to those in need.  
Just a semester in, Marnie Jones is convinced she's made the right career move.
"No matter where I go in life, I know I want to be a nurse," Jones said.
You can learn more about applying, and available scholarships and financial aid at