EAC Nursing

Eastern Arizona College Director of Nursing Carolyn McCormies, center, works with students.

Eastern Arizona College Director of Nursing Carolyn McCormies takes great pride in her chosen field and the program she oversees, which earned national accreditation under her direction.

A registered nurse for 30 years and a family nurse practitioner since 2004, McCormies was recently elected to the board of commissioners for the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. She will take office on October 1, starting a two-year term as one of 17 commissioners. McCormies will serve as one of the board’s three nursing service representatives.

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accredits all levels of nursing programs, around the country and internationally.

“I’ll learn more as I go through orientation as a commissioner, but it’s kind of exciting to think that I’m part of such a prestigious and large organization,” McCormies said. “The majority of nursing programs in the world are accredited through this organization.

“ACEN holds to the highest standards of excellence. I found that was something I could really align myself with. That’s how I feel as well. We hold to a standard of excellence at EAC and try to teach that to our students.”

McCormies, who earned two nursing degrees and family nurse practitioner certification from Arizona State University, serves on the State Board of Nursing and was named Outstanding Nurse Champion by the Arizona Nurses Association in 2017.

She said self-evaluation was one reason for the success of EAC’s nursing program.

“That’s one of the big things we focus on during the accreditation process. We look not just at areas where we do well, but also where we need to make improvements and then try to make them.”

EAC’s nursing program also seeks feedback from potential employers.

“We ask them ‘What can we do to get you a more workforce-ready graduate? How can we help our nurses that will come work for you less likely to make a medication error? How can we help them communicate better with the patients on the unit? How can we make them ready to endure a grueling 12-hour shift?’ And those answers help us train students a little better,” said McCormies.

Then she added a third reason. “I have the best faculty in the world.”

Like the rest of the Gila Valley and the college, the EAC nursing program had to adjust to COVID-19.

“We adapted and did things in a different way, without reducing expectations,” said McCormies. “Our students practiced on family members because that reduced the risk of exposure, and we had students videotaping and sending in the tapes so we could still determine competency. We also did drive-up testing.”

It remains to be seen how nursing classes will look this fall, as the college works out its plans to reopen.

“It’s our hope that all of our faculty will return on August 17, with our students returning to campus on August 24,” said Kris McBride, EAC spokesman. “Things can change but that’s our goal at this point.

“We want people to feel confident enrolling. We don’t want them to put their education on hold, but safety is paramount for our students, faculty and staff,” he said. “We’ll be reaching out to everybody, talking about how we can do that and keep everyone safe.”

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