AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —It will be a memorable milestone in more ways than one when the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at Amarillo College conducts a Nursing Pinning ceremony for the 100th time in its storied history.

AC’s 100th Nursing Pinning, which will honor more than 100 AC nursing graduates, is from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 at Central Church of Christ, 1401 S. Monroe St. The landmark celebration is open to the public.

This traditional capstone event for student nurses on the cusp of graduation will be noteworthy not only for its centennial designation, but because it features a larger graduating class than usual and includes the inaugural ADN graduates to emerge from the innovative Rural Nursing Education Consortium (RNEC).

“The stars have certainly lined up for our historic 100th Pinning ceremony,” said Kim Crowley, dean of health sciences and interim director of the ADN program.

“Not only is our ADN graduating class a bit larger than usual, but we’ll also be including 26 RNEC graduates. They represent the realization of an effort to increase the number of homegrown nurses serving our rural Panhandle communities, so their inclusion in the Pinning is very exciting,” she said.

“We’re thrilled for all these future registered nurses who are graduating from AC this month. All of them, including these first RNEC graduates and those certain to follow, will positively impact the wellness of the Panhandle for years to come.”

Like graduation, the Pinning is a formal opportunity for students to celebrate the accomplishment of becoming a nurse with family, friends and faculty. Schools of nursing each award their own specially designed pins. The day following the ADN Pinning ceremony, AC will conduct its Fall Commencement exercises at the Amarillo Civic Center. AC Commencement is at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16.

Since its establishment in 1968, the College’s ADN program has produced a legion of high-achieving healthcare scholars who for decades have held the lion’s share of nursing jobs regionally. Just since 2001, as many as 2,900 AC students have participated in pinning ceremonies before launching productive nursing careers, transferring to a university, or both.

However, while close to 70 percent of nurses in Amarillo and the surrounding region already get their start at Amarillo College, the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies projects that the supply of nurses will continue to fall short of demand over the next decade, particularly among rural hospitals.

Thus in 2018, the Rural Nursing Education Consortium was conceived. RNEC students, in partnership with regional hospitals, attend ADN classes at AC campuses in Hereford and Dumas; Frank Phillips College delivers vocational nursing (VN) classes at its campuses.

VN classes were first to be offered through RNEC. The curriculum for ADN students was not introduced until Fall of 2021, which is why the first such graduates of the consortium are emerging now.

RNEC coursework is uniquely delivered via face-to-face and distance learning technology, and students undertake clinical requirements at consortium-member hospitals in Borger, Dalhart, Dumas, Hereford and Perryton.

Essentially, nurses produced through the consortium are fully educated in the communities in which they live and expect ultimately to work.

For more information about opportunities for the study of nursing at Amarillo College, please call 806-354-6010 or visit https://www.actx.edu/nursing/.