New nursing program gears up for applicants

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Marilyn Bouldin's nursing program run through Colorado Northwestern Community College has been approved to accept student applications for fall classes.

Bouldin -- former director of community care with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association -- will present information on the courses to prospective nurses at a meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. May 15, in the basement of Craig's VNA offices.

Similar events are planned next week in Steamboat Springs, Meeker, Rangely and Oak Creek.

"Even if they're not ready for the program, they're invited to see what they will need," said Bouldin, who worked with VNA for 16 years.

Sixteen full-time students will be accepted for the inaugural three-semester practical nursing

program.

Bouldin said applications will be distributed Thursday and must be returned to CNCC by June 6.

Next week's presentations come as the Colorado Board of Nursing has yet to approve Bouldin's CNCC courses. The state body is expected to consider the program at its May 29 meeting.

Bouldin said class sizes have been set at 16 because of a state-mandated eight-to-one ratio between students and faculty for training in clinical settings. A teacher still-to-be hired will assist Bouldin in next fall's practical program.

Interest is likely to exceed available student slots, while waiting lists will be kept, she said.

"There will be disappointments," Bouldin said.

Suzanne Frappier, chief nursing officer with The Memorial

Hospital, said the hospital would

provide students' hands-on

clinical experience.

Health officials across Northwest Colorado have pointed to Bouldin's nursing program as a step toward addressing the region's long-standing nursing shortage.

The weak market has forced TMH to hire so-called "traveling nurses" on 13-week contracts to maintain needed staff levels. Five of TMH's staff of 36 nurses work on the contracts, which mean added cost to the hospital, Frappier said

"There's simply nobody else in the market willing to come here," she said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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