Lander graduate Jarrod Nelson has become the first Clinical Nurse Leader in S.C.
Monday, Jun 06, 2016

Jarrod NelsonJarrod Nelson, of Laurens, has added two significant “firsts” to his academic achievements since obtaining a nursing degree from Lander University’s William Preston Turner School of Nursing in 2006. In December 2015, he became the first to graduate with a master’s degree from Lander’s first-in-the-state Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program, and he is the first in South Carolina to pass the national CNL certification exam.

When Nelson came to Lander he planned to major in sociology with a criminal justice emphasis, but he switched to nursing. He said he became interested in nursing the summer before school started while working as a hospital operating room technician and with the encouragement of two neighbors who were nurses.

Nelson, 32, worked in cardiac care nursing at Palmetto Health in Columbia. Later, he completed a course at Ohio State University and received certification in wound care and hyperbaric medicine. He is employed as the clinical nurse manager for the Wound Care Center at GHS-Laurens County Memorial Hospital, in Laurens.

He said he had been considering entering a master’s program when, during a chance meeting with Lander’s nursing school interim dean Dr. Robbie South, she encouraged him to look into the university’s CNL master’s degree.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing describes clinical nurse leaders as bringing a high level of clinical competence and knowledge to points of care and serving as resources for nursing teams. It explained further, “This clinician puts evidence-based practice into action to ensure patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery.”

Courses are offered online and Nelson said the first two semesters were difficult for him as he sought to strike a balance between his daily hospital work schedule and his studies. “I had late nights after working all day, and I sacrificed weekends so I could study and complete research papers.” But, he added, his body became adjusted to the rigorous schedule.

Laurens County Memorial Hospital has implemented a Graduate Synthesis Project that Nelson created during the last semester of his senior year at Lander. He collaborated with a clinical nurse specialist at the hospital on a project focusing on the rate of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers also commonly known as bedsores. Patients with limited mobility and those who cannot change positions in bed on their own are at risk for pressure ulcers, which can be painful and lead to serious infections. 

Nelson said the project was designed to analyze the extent of the problem, why it was happening and examining possible remedies. They also developed a five-point action plan centered on prevention and, according to Nelson, there has been a decrease in the rate of pressure ulcers at the hospital since the plan was implemented. He said the project is in line with evidenced-based medicine and the goal of better patient outcomes.

Now that he has his CNL certification, Nelson admits he has given thought to continuing his education. He said, “One part of me says ‘just keep on going,’” and he added that a doctorate in nursing is possible, with teaching as a career option.

In the meantime, he’s focused on his hospital job and getting back to his love of outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting, which were among the sacrifices he made while studying for his CNL master’s degree and the certification exam.