Kellie Barnes greets visitors and patients with a warm smile as she walks through the hospital hallways in her red, Saint Alphonsus scrubs. Her passion for healthcare shines through – she even sports EKG heartbeat earrings!
Barnes graduated from College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Nursing program in May and has been working at Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise for the past three months. She works on the eighth floor, in the Central Tower, which handles a variety of trauma cases including gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes, and other patients. “It’s such a diverse floor, it’s just perfect for the first year,” Barnes said.
She liked CWI’s program because of the quality of instruction she received and how she was still able to work and take care of her family while finishing school. The Nursing program at CWI builds on the scientific foundations of nursing knowledge, while incorporating knowledge of biological and social sciences, and the humanities through classes and hands-on training during labs.
“The simulation labs were amazing — we had a six-week lab with Instructor Jen Navarro, I was so nervous, but the learning environment was great!”
According to Idaho Department of Labor, from 2016 to 2026, the demand for registered nurses in the state has a projected growth rate of 29.3 percent which equates to 1,147 annual openings with an average hourly wage of $29.90.
Ironically for Barnes, her clinicals in the Nursing program were at the same hospital.
“My first clinical day was on this floor, one of my mentors that I thought was amazing is now one of my co-workers. I was so supported and it felt great. All of the mentors were wonderful,” added Barnes.
During her classes at CWI, Barnes excelled in her classes.
“Kellie was a class leader. She was positive and motivated others to step up,” said Allison Baker, Department Chair for Nursing.
CWI’s two-year Nursing program is approved by the Idaho State Board of Nursing, and is a great way to launch a career in health care — with 95 percent of the College’s students passing the national test to become a registered nurse.
“Every time I leave for work I can’t believe this is where I’m going, I’ve always wanted to this,” said Barnes.