August 6th, 2019
Nightengale: GC's Addictions Counseling program will prepare students for high-demand job field
Faculty member building relationships with area treatment programs
Nicole Nightengale is confident that Garrett College's Addictions Counseling program will meet its dual goals of preparing students for employment in a fast-growing field and addressing a pressing community need.
"There is a nationwide opioid crisis and the demand for substance abuse services continues to grow," noted Nightengale, who recently joined Garrett College as an assistant professor in addictions counseling as well as academic program director for social and behavioral sciences. "Employment in the substance abuse field is currently one of the occupational fields with a high projected growth potential."
Nightengale brings both teaching and real-world experience to her new role. A former adjunct instructor at West Virginia University, Nightengale has also worked in the field as an alcohol and drug counselor for both the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and the Cumberland Treatment Center.
"Nicole brings valuable professional experience to her new role through her service as a licensed counselor," said Dr. Qing Yuan, GC's dean of academic affairs and chief academic officer. "In addition to her educational and professional qualifications, Nicole is very motivated and enthusiastic about this new opportunity."
"I'm passionate about the helping field and am excited to be a mentor to others who are interested in making a difference," said Nightengale, who is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor with master's degrees in both rehabilitation counseling and educational psychology from West Virginia University. She also earned a bachelor's degree from Frostburg State University.
Nightengale indicated her first goal is building relationships with treatment programs that can partner with GC in offering required field placements for students in the Addictions Counseling program. In about a month on the job, she has already secured field placement partnerships with both Cumberland Comprehensive Treatment Center and the Joseph S. Massie Inpatient Treatment Program through the Allegany County Health Department.
Nightengale said she has future meetings scheduled with other local organizations, including the Garrett County Health Department and Garrett Health and Wellness.
"Community partnerships are critical for the Addictions Counseling program," said Nightengale. "The curriculum provides theoretical coursework along with practical, hands-on instruction and field experiences. Both components are necessary to attain certification as a Certified Supervised Alcohol and Drug Counselor [CSC-AD] through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists."
Nightengale said these partnerships are mutually beneficial.
"The fieldwork component of the program can assist local agencies in enhancing their perspective, increasing productivity, and recruiting employees," said Nightengale, who is also working to create partnerships with transfer institutions, including Frostburg State University and West Virginia University.
Nightengale said she is excited to be joining the Garrett College faculty and having the opportunity to put her own stamp on the Addictions Counseling program.
"The focus of the college is not only on how to best serve the students, but also on how to serve the community," she said. "The strong connections and support established by Garrett College contribute to the students' opportunities for success.
"The Addictions Counseling program has great potential," continued Nightengale. "The helping field is very demanding and Garrett College exhibits the high academic standards necessary to prepare students for work in the Addictions Counseling field."
Yuan credited Professor of Psychology Terry Kasecamp – who wrote the initial program proposal for the Associate of Applied Science degree – as well as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Lucy Manley and Dean of Students JR Kerns for their critical contributions to the program's foundation.
"There was a strong institutional commitment to building this program," said Yuan.
Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president, said the program has already begun to attract a wide variety of students.
"This program has drawn traditional-age students just starting their college careers as well as working adults with bachelor's degrees who are now looking to become CSC-ADs [Certified Supervised Alcohol and Drug Counselors]," noted Midcap. "We envision this program providing our region with more tools for addressing the opioid crisis."