Wiregrass Tech faculty spotlight: Dr. Darlene Ridley
When you meet Dr. Darlene Ridley, one of the first things you notice is how softspoken she is along with her sweet smile. But don't be mistaken that she's timid; she's tough as nails and is the director of the #1 RN program in the state of Georgia. Dr. Ridley's career at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College began the first day the college began the Associate of Science in Nursing (RN) program in June 2012. Since that time Dr. Ridley has not only been instrumental in creating and developing the program curriculum, but has seen the program through an Accreditation process, prepared students for the HESI and NCLEX-RN Exams, and brought the program to the number one status, all while working toward her doctoral degree.
Over her career as an RN, Ridley has worked in hospitals in Medical Surgery, Telemetry, CPU (chest pain unit), and ICU in Florida. She has experience working in mental health, and long-term care roles which she allows her to talk to her students about actual things they will see in all these areas as a nurse. She is also a Certified Nurse Educator through the National League for Nursing (NLN). She knew once she graduated from high school that she wanted to become a nurse. "I chose nursing because my mother instilled in my head that I needed a good job because you never know what will happen in your life," shared Ridley. More than getting a good job though, she also knew she wanted to make a difference in her community. After high school she attended Darton College (now Albany State University) for her Associate of Science in Nursing Degree, then completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Masters at Thomas University. Most recently, she completed her Education Leadership Doctorate program at Valdosta State University.
Through her oversight and leadership, the RN Program was named the number one program in the state by Registered Nursing.org. The ranking was among all 53 colleges, universities, and technical colleges that offer an RN program and was based on the students' National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) pass rates. In other words, the recognition is based on the percentage of graduates who passed the exam. "The nursing program at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College prepares students throughout the duration of the program. We want our students to achieve success on the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) and to perform proficiently as a competent and safe professional registered nurse. In order to achieve success, students are required to demonstrate competency with clinical skills, drug calculation, and on the HESI final exam each semester," shared Dr. Ridley.
Her teaching philosophy seems simple, "to produce safe and competent professional registered nurses." Her own personal philosophy is "to thine own self be true." "I want my students to walk out of the classroom and know how to provide patient-centered compassionate care for any patient in any situation regardless," shared Ridley. "I want them to have compassion and be competent." Brianna Kelch, a spring semester ASN graduate, is one of those students on whom Ridley has made an impression. "If I had to describe Dr. Ridley I would say she is persistent, yet heartfelt," shared Kelch. "She shows nobility in her dedication to the nursing program at WGTC. She is always available and tells you the harsh, true facts, because it's what you need to hear, not what you want to hear." Kelch feels because of Dr. Ridley's guidance throughout this program, she is confident to say she will be a safe, competent nurse. Brianna has accepted an RN position with South Georgia Medical Center in the newborn nursery.
Ridley is one of many who seek to impact the lives of others. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is committed to the mission of workforce development in the 11-county service area. Dr. Ridley shared that she loves working at Wiregrass and loves her colleagues. "Wiregrass is the best job in town; the hours are good and I get to do what I love-nursing education," shared Ridley. For more information about the Associate of Science in Nursing Degree or any of Wiregrass' Allied Health programs visit, wiregrass.edu.