College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Nursing program continues to increase its capacity to meet the incredible demand for training in this crucial healthcare sector.
According to the Idaho Center for Nursing, there is a projected shortage of up to 523 Registered Nurses in the state annually until 2024, as the population continues to grow and the nursing workforce is aging.
“Many nurses in Idaho are reaching retirement age,” said Cathleen Currie, Dean of Health at CWI. “There is a nursing shortage currently, and clearly, the data points to a larger issue in the future.”
To meet the need for more nurses, CWI has invested in state-of-the-art equipment in simulation labs that provide a more dynamic learning environment and allow the College to deliver instruction to more students and assist those students in completing more of their clinicals in the lab. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) allows students to complete 50% of their clinicals in the simulation lab, and the other half working hands-on in the field with physicians and nurses at a medical facility.
However, even with the rapid growth of CWI’s program, only 58 first-year students were accepted for Fall 2020 semester due to limited capacity in clinical placement, faculty numbers, and physical space at the College – leaving 130 other applicants in a holding pattern.
“We have increased our nursing student admission numbers yearly since our first graduating class in 2012,” underscored Currie. “The biggest impediment to increasing program numbers is the growing shortage of clinical opportunities, and more space for classes.”
While increasing class size, CWI continues to focus on delivering high-quality instruction.
With an NCLEX-RN exam pass rate near 90% for graduates from the program, it is proof of its success as an educational leader in the region.
“With support from College administration, we not only are increasing numbers, but we have increased faculty numbers and constructed a new simulation lab to maintain the quality of instruction as we grow,” said Allison Baker, Nursing Department Chair.
Nevertheless, challenges remain for CWI as it continues to innovate and grow this popular program to meet the demand for more nurses in the Treasure Valley.