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First nursing grads take big step

David Lewis, 31, has always liked helping people.

He'll now have his opportunity as one of the first graduates of the Ohio University Southern nursing program.

"I thought it was great, it was a wonderful experience," Lewis said. "I feel very prepared to enter the field of nursing."

Lewis was one of 28 students in the first class of nursing students to graduate from OUS, who were recognized at Friday's ceremony.

The nursing program at OUS was six years in the making by the time it got its start in 2003. By then, the program faced a significant hurdle: The fact that there was no hospital in Ironton.

OUS assistant director of nursing Rose Roach said that they naturally spread out to surrounding area medical centers, but the southern campus also had to get a bit creative.

"We also used non-hospitals, facilities such as Jo-Lin Nursing Home," Roach said. "We've also used our public school system, so we've worked with the school nurses, mainly at Ironton City Schools, but also Rock Hill and the day-care at Central Christian Church."

A total of 42 students entered the nursing program and 28 are receiving their degrees. Though that may sound low, Roach said it's well above the national average of graduates from nursing programs, which is between 45 and 50 percent.

Lewis said that the OUS nursing program's instructors have a lot to do with why his class was so satisfied with the program.

"They have a wonderful staff, they help the students in any way they can, they're very knowledgeable and they get everything across to you," Lewis said.

After taking the a test to become a registered nurse in Kentucky, Lewis said he will begin working at King's Daughters Medical Center.

He's not alone. Roach said that to the best of her knowledge, all of the nursing grads have already found jobs in the high-demand nursing field.