The Licensed Practical Nursing Program at the Randolph Technical Center has reached a milestone. At 7 p.m. Feb. 22, the program will celebrate the graduation of its 20th class.

“We are so pleased for this anniversary, and want to make sure former graduates of the program and the public know we would like them to attend and celebrate with us,” said coordinator/instructor Edna Croston. “We would like it to be a mini-reunion, and our first coordinator, Ruth Caplinger, will be the guest speaker.”

The LPN program at Randolph Technical Center began as a collaboration of community efforts including Davis Memorial Hospital, Elkins Rehabilitation and Care Center, Nella’s Nursing Home and Cortland Acres in Thomas. Croston said Davis Memorial Hospital was instrumental in getting the local program started.

“Davis Memorial Hospital gave us start-up funds for the first three years for the program,” said Caplinger. “Ashby Craft was a hospital board member and he really was instrumental to helping get the program going.”

Caplinger said starting the program usually takes about two years.

“Craft asked me to get the program going in nine months, and I worked day and night and met that goal,” Caplinger said.

“The first class had 25 openings, and we received about 175 applications. Our first class had students from all over – Randolph, Barbour, Harrison, Pocahontas and Tucker counties, as well as Oakland, Md.”

Dan Bucher was the administrator at Cortland Acres when the LPN program began.

“Cliff Wilmoth and Glenn Karlen also worked very hard to get this program started,” Bucher said. “We at Cortland Acres felt we needed a program close to train our folks. Ruth Caplinger got the program started and did a great job. Croston is doing a great job, and I am happy to see the program’s anniversary.”

Bucher said his son, Luke, went through the program eight years ago, and is currently employed and has his RN degree.

Interim Superintendent of Randolph County Schools Terry George said the LPN program is top flight.

“I am very impressed with the Randolph Technical Center LPN program,” George said. “It is one of the most outstanding programs in the state. Great effort goes into selecting the students in the program. RTC director Don Johnson is a very dedicated leader and part of the success of the program is due to his direction.”

“What I am most proud of is the students who completed the program,” Johnson said. “Many of them came to us at a low point in their lives, each needing a way to support themselves and their families. They completed the program and we now have more than 400 nurses employed in the area in good jobs.”

Croston is assisted in the Randolph Technical Center LPN program by instructor Michelle Barnett and secretary Beverly Wine.

“We don’t do this by ourselves,” Croston said. “It is a group effort. Sue Ellen Johnson prepares potential students for testing. Our building was constructed with the help of students and instructors in the RTC electricity program, building trades program and the mill and cabinet program. Denise Stalnaker’s program helps us with posters, Frankie Lucas’ class helps make food for events, the information technology program helps with our computers and we share items with the nursing program. We have an excellent group of people we work with.”

LPN’s can provide personal care, change dressings and give some medications. They are hired in hospitals, doctors’ offices, long term care facilities, respiratory care centers, hospices, home health agencies and correctional facilities and as school nurses.

“Our program takes 12 months of study,” Croston said. “We take applications from May to July, and testing begins in September and October. These are followed by face-to-face interviews, and we make our selections before Christmas. Orientation begins in January and classes begin in March.”

Croston said the classes include both book work and clinical field study. The majority of the work is in the field and students work in Tucker, Upshur, Lewis, Barbour and Randolph County.

Following graduation, students usually take their board testing within two weeks.

Additional information about the Randolph Technical Center Licensed Practical Nursing program is available by calling 304-636-9195.