Published Feb. 10 2014
By Ty Beaver, Tri-City Herald
The Columbia Basin College campus in Pasco.
BOB BRAWDY/ — Tri-City Herald
Ten years ago, a patient would seek medical attention for a single health issue.
Today, patients have multiple problems, said Mary Horner, Columbia Basin College's nursing program director.
requires nurses to have a deep understanding of multiple diagnoses,
good problem-solving skills and a solid grip on health policy.
That's why CBC is taking steps to offer a four-year bachelor of science in nursing degree, possibly beginning in fall 2016.
about the program, which would be based at the college's central
Richland campus, are still being developed, including how many students
it would handle and how many instructors would be needed.
would be CBC's fourth four-year degree program and the second bachelor's
level nursing program in the region after Washington State University
College officials said the program's current graduates
receive high marks in the health care industry, but there's a clear
need for more highly trained nurses, either as new graduates or as
veterans who return to school to fill out their skill set.
people we take care of on a daily basis have multiple issues," Horner
said. "It's not just looking at one picture and one diagnosis."
has a two-year associate degree nursing program, as well as a one-year
certificate program. There are just less than 100 nursing students at
the college, with about 50 accepted each year.
"We have very little attrition," said college spokesman Frank Murray.
college also offers bachelor of applied science degrees in applied
management, project management and cybersecurity, with the latter two
being made available in September.
The programs allow students
with two-year associate degrees to earn a bachelor's degree with two
more years of coursework, preparing them for management-level positions.
interest in the college's four-year degrees has been good, Murray said,
with enrollment in the new project management program "going through
The new nursing degree would provide further education
in community health and policy and patient care than the two-year
program, CBC officials said.
A proposal for the program has
already been submitted to the State Board for Community and Technical
Colleges, which oversees program quality, the demand for the programs
and whether they compete with any nearby public four-year universities.
approved, CBC would be the third community college in the state to
offer a four-year nursing degree and the only one east of the Cascades.
idea to offer a nursing bachelor's degree has been considered for
years, said CBC President Rich Cummins. Studies looking at the country's
future health care needs indicate that by 2020, registered nurses will
need a four-year degree.
Most hospitals already prefer nursing graduates who have a bachelor's degree rather than an associate degree.
"We're already putting our students at a disadvantage," he said.
bachelor program would be comparable to WSU Tri-Cities' program, which
only weeks ago opened a new nursing school facility blocks away from
CBC's Richland campus.
Officials at both schools said they won't compete with each other, and WSU nursing officials said they support CBC's plan.
the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in this region of the state
will benefit community residents, health care employers and nursing
professionals," said Allison Benjamin, a spokeswoman for WSU Nursing.
said CBC and WSU Tri-Cities also serve different student groups. The
university typically educates students right out of high school. The
college serves students who are older and need a more flexible school
schedule because of work or family.
"A lot of these will be nurses
who've been out there 10 to 15 years and they're coming back because
their employers say they need to," Cummins said.
The college still
has to take a lot of steps before the first students can enroll. In
addition to receiving final approval from the state, the program's
curriculum must be developed and a new faculty will be needed.
qualified instructors could be difficult, Horner said, as there is a
shortage of people qualified to teach in a baccalaureate-level nursing
But the increasing demand for highly trained nurses isn't going away anytime soon.
"There's just so much to take care of with today's patients," Horner said.
Published with permission of the Tri-City Herald. Additional news stories can be accessed online at the Tri-City Herald.
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