Students with an associate degree in nursing have a new option to further their education.
Columbia Basin College announced this week that it is recruiting it’s first 25 students for a bachelor of science in nursing program.
The college is accepting applications for the positions until Feb. 1, and classes start in April.
The program adds to nursing students’ knowledge of research, community and population health, and leadership and management, said Kim Tucker, the director of the college’s nursing program.
The addition comes after health officials state- and nationwide urged increasing education levels of health care professionals, she said.
A 2011 report from the Institutes of Medicine states that patient outcomes are improved by a more knowledgeable nursing staff, and recommends an 80 percent increase in the number of professionals with a bachelor of science in nursing by 2020.
Nurses are treating a growing elderly population with more chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the report said.
“The ways in which nurses were educated during the 20th century are no longer adequate for dealing with the realities of health care in the 21st century,” the report said.
“As patient needs and care environments have become more complex, nurses need to attain requisite competencies to deliver high-quality care.”
Tucker said the local community supported the idea of a bachelor’s degree in nursing during the three-year process of getting the program approved.
Officials needed to demonstrate the program was necessary, first to the state’s community college association, then to the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. They also needed approval of the program’s curriculum from the commission.
Washington State University and community colleges in the region submitted letters of support, she said.
“Based on the phone calls and emails I received, I’m hoping we’re going to have a large response (from students),” Tucker said.
The majority of the classes will be offered online, with students needing to report to a classroom for a few days each quarter.
To finish the course, they will spend time at a community or public health agency. They also will need to finish a leadership course, where they will work with their employer and other employees to develop a solution to an issue at the workplace.
The college expects to start a second 25-person class during the fall quarter of 2017, and welcome a new 25-person class each year.
Tuition for a full-time student is about $9,000 for a yearlong program.
The nursing program will hold an open house to showcase the new degree between 6 and 8 p.m. Monday at the Richland Health Science Center, 891 Northgate Drive.
Learn more about the new program between 6 and 8 p.m. Monday at the Richland Health Science Center at 801 Northgate Drive.