P O W E L L, W y o. - The Northwest College Registered Nursing Program in Worland will begin a one-year hiatus after the end of the spring semester classes on May 9.
NWC Director of Nursing Theresa Karter said the program was temporarily suspended due to a lack of qualified students interested in taking courses in Worland. The Licensed Practical Nursing Program in Worland will continue uninterrupted.
Northwest depends on the Wyoming Investment in Nursing Act (WYIN) to cover faculty costs involved in providing RN and LPN nursing programs in Worland, but according to legislative mandate, WYIN funding can't be used for programs enrolling fewer than eight RN students. Karter said only three students met all the requirements to be admitted to the Worland RN program that begins in August.
Unlike almost every other program offered through a community college, Karter said, "Students are not automatically admitted to a nursing program. Applicants are required to pass a Nurse Entrance Test and successfully complete three prerequisite classes, among other things, before even applying for admission to the nursing program. Depending on their personal circumstances, most start preparing one to two years before being admitted to the program."
The three students who qualified for the Worland Program have been offered an opportunity to join the Powell campus fall '08 class. "These students will be welcomed and encouraged to participate in every class to maximize their learning experience in the nursing program," Karter said.
"We value the clinical instruction sites in Worland and Basin that have contributed to the program and will work to continue to offer them in our clinical rotation," Karter said.
Even though the NWC Nursing Program ran advertisements earlier this year in Basin, Greybull, Lovell and Worland newspapers, Karter said she received no calls as a result of those ads. However, she understands there are potential students working on prerequisites in order to apply to the program next year.
"The Worland nursing program is very important to Northwest College, and we anticipate continuing when we have a full complement of eligible students," Karter said. "We look forward to addressing the community's health care needs in the future."
Nursing is one of the most expensive programs Northwest delivers, mostly because of the eight-to-one student-to-instructor ratio required in clinical nursing classes. As a part of resuming the program, the college will need to reapply for WYIN funding.
Unfortunately, Wyoming, like the rest of the nation, is facing a nursing shortage that's predicted to become even more dire as the population ages. Karter is hopeful the students who didn't qualify for the RN program this year will be interested in completing the prerequisite courses and meeting the math and reading comprehension levels required on the Nurse Entrance Test.