CNCC opening guaranteed admissions pathway for nursing |

CNCC opening guaranteed admissions pathway for nursing

Colorado Northwestern Community College will soon offer guaranteed admission pathway for nursing students.
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

Would-be future nursing students at Colorado Northwestern Community College will soon be able to feel confident they will progress to a nursing degree at the college.

CNCC is instituting a “guaranteed admissions pathway” for nursing students that begin their prerequisites at the college — whether that happens at the Craig campus, where the nursing school is, or at the school’s Rangely campus. That means pre-nursing students can ensure they will be accepted to the nursing program in Craig when they begin their studies at a CNCC campus, as long as they meet certain basic requirements.

These students will no longer have to worry about potentially missing out to students from outside the school who might appear more otherwise qualified in the competitive entry program.

“Many nursing programs have competitive entry,” said Liz Johnson, associate dean of Career and Technical Education for CNCC. “There’s no guarantee that a student will be able to get in — it’s all based on who’s applying. You get students from outside of the area. We wanted to make sure it’s available for students to start planning. You’re asking students to put their lives on hold if they get in or not.”

Johnson, who also teaches anatomy at the college, said there are three primary benefits to taking this fairly unusual step with the CNCC nursing school.

First, she explained, is the benefit to the student, encouraging application to pre-nursing classes while taking away the risk that, even with appropriate grades in the pre-requisites, they might not be able to progress.

Second, Johnson said, there’s a benefit to the school.

“We want to be sure students coming into the nursing program come with the standards and rigor we want,” she said. “We’ve seen students take prerequisites at institutions that may not have had that rigor, and you can spot that quickly. We want to reward students who came through us — even if you get a B in my anatomy class, we know that rigor is there.”

Finally is the regional benefit. A system like this is more likely to turn out nurses who have ties to the Western Slope and who are therefore more likely to work at regional health providers, Johnson said.

“If people come in from outside the area, they may have no intention of staying on the Western Slope,” Johnson said. “We need nurses here. This is going to alleviate some of those concerns.”

Johnson pointed out that CNCC already has a guaranteed admissions track in their dental program, but she said to do it in nursing is more rare.

“We want competitive students, but we believe we still have that rigor associated with guaranteed admissions,” Johnson said. “It takes more work to get there — but we’re all geared toward student success. We’re not just making it harder. We want them to be successful.”

CNCC will still accept competitive entry students, but a number of slots will be set aside for guaranteed admission students who will soon progress to the program.

“We’re normally pretty full with competitive entry,” Johnson said, noting that the program is usually at capacity in the high 20s with nursing students. “But we’ll have designated spots for guaranteed and for competitive entry students. If we suddenly have 30 students who want to do Fall ‘23, we’ll plan for that. If that means we need to work on more clinical sites, using our numbers, we’ll be able to plan accordingly.”

Johnson also said the school will staff up as necessary with instructors, but the nature of guaranteed admissions will make planning for that easier.

“We fight some limitations, but we’ll work with our local and regional partners and gain faculty,” she said. “The good news is guaranteed admission is going to help us start the process with local hospitals.”

Johnson said CNCC hears from regional hospitals and care centers about the pressure to find new, quality nurses to add to their staffs.

“Our partners say, ‘We need nurses. How can we get them?’” Johnson said. “It’s always challenging; it’s a national need. You can be a traveling nurse and make a ton of money. But people who are here already, who have local family here or have a house here, the odds of them staying here is a lot higher. Hospitals can see this program and use it to their benefit. Of course, this doesn’t preclude hospitals from sending students of their own, but now the hospital can be proactive rather than reactive.”

An information session will be held Thursday at the college and on Zoom. The event will be noon to 1 p.m. at the Craig campus, 2801 W. 9th St. More information can be found at

More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.