Healing a Workforce: MICN Program Shines as Regional Nursing Needs Rise

With nursing shortages spiking all over the country, regional community colleges are doing their part to keep the industry in good health.

That is why schools like Crafton Hills College are addressing the pressing need, specifically through specialized programming within the Inland Empire/Desert Region. Their Mobile Intensive Care Nurse certificate program (MICN) shines a well-deserved spotlight for registered nurses looking to take their careers to the next level.

“It’s a very, very busy region and our hospitals with MICNs are pretty popular,” says Amanda Ward, Paramedic Program Director at Crafton Hills College. “We are the only community college that runs this course across San Bernardino County, Inyo County, and Mono County.”

The program prepares mobile intensive care nurses to assist paramedics from a base station hospital when treating a patient. MICNs at these base station hospitals will relay medical orders and instruct paramedics on where the patient would receive the best care via radio communication.

“Not every hospital is a base station hospital but there are several in the region,” explains Ward. “Base station hospitals are the places that paramedics in the field — when they’re out responding to 911 calls — will communicate with the hospital to let them know of the patient they have and what’s going on.”

The six-week course covers a variety of topics through both lecture and field experience. In the classroom, teachings cover curriculum like EMS systems and clinical care knowledge, and effective communication techniques. After completing the lecture portion of the program, Ward says students then move forward in the field alongside partnering regional emergency response teams.

“[Students] are on campus the first few weeks for lecture, and then they actually go and do ride-outs with our fire departments and ambulance companies that we contract with,” explains the Director.

“So that beyond them just learning how to receive those calls from the paramedics, they actually go out into the field to experience what it is the paramedics are dealing with in those scenarios.”

These ride-outs expose MICN students to real-world situations, so they can understand processes

and procedures when paramedics and EMS teams communicate with MICNs through radio. This collaboration helps MICNs, and paramedics understand how to accurately perform and provide their patients with the best care possible.

“It’s just a very team-dynamic feel, and it’s mutually beneficial for all parties involved,” says Ward.

Along with the MICN program, other health-focused programming at Crafton Hills College continues to make waves across the region. The accredited Paramedic program at Crafton Hills College currently produces students with a 96 percent pass rate on the National Registry Exam after completion of the program.

Additionally, 95 percent of all program graduates end up employed in the field within six months of graduation. With comprehensive courses, knowledgeable faculty, and real-world experience, it’s no wonder the college is seeing success across the board in its medical service pathways.

“Students who enroll in [the MICN] program are very dedicated individuals that are taking this class outside of their own employment,” states Ward. “These are very professional students that often come in with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.”

These degrees provide the fundamental knowledge and skillsets for the MICN program. Additional requirements include serving as a registered nurse for at least one year, having 800 hours of experience as a registered nurse in an emergency department, working at a current base station hospital in San Bernardino and Riverside County, and holding an ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) card.

“These students hold a multitude of licenses and certifications that are also required to participate and complete this class,” explains Ward. “They are very dedicated to their role in serving that prehospital setting.”

Becoming a MICN offers a valuable opportunity for current RNs, like providing credentials that stand out on a resume, earning a higher salary, and taking on a more complex role in the patient care process.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the RN workforce is predicted to grow about 6 percent within the next decade. However, current demands struggle to keep up as the global health crisis strains existing nursing professionals across the country. Staffing shortages, mass retirements, and general burnout are mostly to blame for the decline within the past few years.

According to recent findings, the number of RNs has lowered by more than 100,000 in the U.S. This is one of the largest declines in the field in the past forty years. Currently, the Inland Empire is projecting over 22,800 open RN positions between 2018 and 2028.

Thanks to regional community colleges like Crafton Hills, comprehensive health-focused programming is helping the regional workforce get back on its feet. “We’re actually the first accredited paramedic program in the state of California through community colleges,” explains Ward. “So, there’s a lot of history and relationships that exist here.”

The MICN program continues to provide Inland/Desert hospitals with these specialty nurses that improve the lives of our community members every day. Through Crafton Hills College’s comprehensive training, these MICNs are on the road toward an unstoppable career.

“I think that this is a very special, individual class and we really enjoy hosting it,” continues Ward about the MICN program. “It’s created a lot of amazing relationships between our college and the hospitals.

“I think you wouldn’t find a better spot to run this course.”

You can learn more about Crafton Hills College’s MICN program at www.craftonhills.edu.