Throughout Cecil College’s 50 years of providing excellence in higher education, the Nursing Program has remained one of the strongest and most successful at the institution as well as across the state. The program has received many accolades over the decades and credit for the success falls squarely on the shoulders of the faculty.
It is the dedication and commitment to the students from instructors like Associate Professor II, Shirley Gharbin, Ed.D., that has created the reputation the Cecil Nursing Program. Dr. Gharbin’s unique style of teaching was recently acknowledged with the announcement that she is the recipient of the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
While Dr. Gharbin is full-time faculty, she remains active in the medical field on a part-time basis in order to remain on the cutting edge of emerging technologies. She translates that information back to the classroom in order to provide Cecil’s students an edge during their clinical work.
“I try to connect what the students learn in the classroom with what they might see during their clinical studies. Often the textbooks are outdated and the information is not up to date because the technology is changing so fast. I bring my experiences from working in a practice back to the classroom to expose them to this information,” said Dr. Gharbin. “For me, as an educator, it keeps me more rounded because I am up to date with what is going on, and I feel that our students are getting an edge when it comes to taking the Boards and going into a practice. They don’t experience, ‘Oh, we didn’t learn that when we were in the class.’”
One of Dr. Gharbin’s methods is to maintain an “evidence-based board” in the classroom where she places the latest information she is observing as a practicing nurse and develops discussions with the students during class. The discussions revolve around and connect how procedures are performed and how they are being done with the new technology. This allows Dr. Gharbin to help her students from being blindsided when they are performing their clinical studies or taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
“When they perform their clinics, they come back and say, ‘remember when you told us about that piece of equipment, we knew how it worked.’ That validates that I am on the right track with having that one foot in the practice arena,” said Dr. Gharbin.
Graduates from the Cecil Nursing Program have been recognized as some of the highest rated nurses in the industry. In 2015 and 2016, Cecil’s nursing students had the highest pass rate for the NCLEX in the State of Maryland with 93.88 percent and 94.12 percent, respectively. This was for both ASN and BSN program outcomes. This trend continued in 2017 with a pass rate of 94.12 percent, just shy of the highest in the state.
Dr. Gharbin’s passion for nurturing her students and healing patients stems from her upbringing in Ghana and the influence of her grandmother. Her grandmother was a village elder and midwife who provided herbal remedies to cure ailments.
“I grew up in an environment of caring for others as a nurturer. Now, I love that I am both an educator and practicing nurse. I got into nursing because I wanted that connection with patients,” said Dr. Gharbin. “As a nurse, we are always teaching. Whether it is with patients on their medication or about what is going to happen, we are always in that educator mode.”
Dr. Gharbin came to the United States at the age of eight, growing up in New York City. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of New Rochelle. After moving to Maryland, she went on to earn a master’s degree in nursing from Wilmington University. She said the natural thing was to “keep moving” in her education and completed her doctorate (Ed.D.) last year from Wilmington University.
Dr. Gharbin, who lives in Elkton with her two daughters and son, will be presented the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award in April at the 2018 AACC Convention in Dallas.