Nursing Shortage: Statewide
New Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates will help ease the nursing shortage in Colorado.
Front Range Community College is awarding its first bachelor’s degrees in the school’s 52-year history. These are also the first four-year degrees in nursing from any school in the Colorado Community College System. FRCC began offering classes in its new Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Completion Program in October of 2019. The Class of 2020 is now graduating.
Community colleges generally award two-year associate degrees—but in 2018 the Colorado legislature passed a law allowing them to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees in nursing.
“FRCC’s new program is helping to meet a growing need for skilled health care providers in Colorado by building on our 50-year history of outstanding nursing education,” said President Andy Dorsey. “It also provides students an affordable route to good jobs in their home state.”
“Nurse leaders recognize the value of the pursuit of higher education,” said Josie Moszynski, director of patient services–acute care at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital. She co-chairs the advisory board for FRCC’s RN-to-BSN program. “We encourage our nurses to continue their studies to complete their bachelor’s degree.”
“Nurses with BSNs have a different knowledge base from having access to additional training including unique critical thinking skills,” said Moszynski. “Not only can this help lead to higher quality care provided to patients, but it guides nurses to successful lifelong careers. FRCC’s program is helping us meet the health care needs of the communities we serve now and in the future.”
The Statewide Nursing Shortage
Colorado is experiencing an annual shortage of at least 500 nurses with four-year BSN degrees, and this figure is expected to grow to a cumulative shortage of 4,500 nurses with BSNs by 2024.
In the past, most nurses were only required to have a two-year associate degree. “Now many health care providers require their nurses to have a bachelor’s degree,” said Edith Matesic, director of FRCC’s RN-to-BSN completion program. “Our BSN completion option will allow more of our trained, skilled nurses to graduate and go directly into the workforce.”
Demand for qualified nurses is increasing, in part, because many baby boomers in the profession are retiring. FRCC’s new program—along with others around the state—is helping meet that need for skilled health care providers.
The Class of 2020 is a small one—with just two graduates—but this is just a start for the growing program. More of their classmates will follow suit, graduating in the spring of 2021.
Amy Larabee, RN, BSN— Amy is currently the director of nursing for a 54-bed subacute rehab facility that provides inpatient nursing care and physical therapy for patients recovering from a hospital stay. She previously completed her Licensed Practical Nursing certificate and Associate Degree in Nursing at FRCC. Amy decided she wanted to be a nurse at age six. She has four children and has worked full time while completing FRCC’s BSN program. She is considering eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.
Melissa, RN, BSN—Melissa is a nurse at Denver Health Medical Center, and has worked full time while completing her BSN. She has always known she wanted to become a nurse, inspired by her grandmother. She also completed her Associate Degree in Nursing at FRCC. Now that she has her bachelor’s, she hopes to continue her education and keep learning.
“This global pandemic has challenged each and every one of us to evaluate our priorities and find strength during a time of uncertainty,” said President Dorsey. “Kudos to these graduates who continued to pursue their bachelor’s degree even in the midst of unforeseen challenges. They represent a beacon of hope for their patients and all patients to come.”
The RN-to-BSN completion option allows registered nurses who have completed an accredited associate degree—or students enrolled in an accredited nursing program—to finish their Bachelor of Science degree right at FRCC.
“Most of the coursework for this program is delivered online, so students can register through any of FRCC’s three campuses,” added Matesic. “They also get to work with nursing experts close to where they live or work.”