2018 Trinidad State News

Nursing Job Fair at Trinidad State stirs discussion about the program and continuing education

Valley Campus / April 26, 2018 / Written by Margaret Sanderson

Trinidad State photoA change in the nursing industry was evident at this year’s Nursing Job Fair, sponsored by Trinidad State and held on both the Alamosa and Trinidad campuses on April 10. Contrary to the norm, the continuing education booths far outnumbered the job opportunity booths.

Many of the 74 Trinidad State nursing students explored their options while considering why they chose to study at Trinidad State. Reasons included: the good reputation of the nursing program, lower cost, the option of making a career with only Practical Nurse (PN) training, completion time for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and high pass rate on certification testing. San Luis Valley Health, the biggest health care employer in the Valley, was one of the medical centers vying for the students’ attention.

A group of Colorado Community Colleges, including Trinidad State, plans to explore the feasibility of offering a BSN as early as September 2019. Colorado House Bill 1086 addressed the shortage of nurses in Colorado by allowing them to get a bachelor’s degree after they have completed their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) at designated community colleges and passed the Registered Nurse licensing exams. That law passed in March. Colorado is already short about 490 nurses with four-year degrees each year, and that could rise to a cumulative shortage of 4,500 nurses by 2024, which could mean one in 13 positions requiring a BSN could go unfilled according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence said, “Based on the fact that 32 percent (about 20,000) of the state’s licensed RNs are currently over 55, we believe that the requirement for new nurses to replace retiring nurses will be even larger than government estimates would suggest. In 1993, only 9 percent of Colorado’s health care workforce was over the age of 55; today it is 20 percent.”

Martin Dineen, who has been a nursing instructor at the college for eleven years, said, “We want all of our students to get their bachelor’s within three years (of graduating with their ADN).” 

“The Job Fair saves a lot of time when we can compare many universities at once instead of having to contact them individually,” said Emily Faucette. Gus Salano agreed and added, “One of the companies at the fair has a program that helps a student adjust to the nursing world.”

Students at Trinidad State have the added advantage of making a career as an PN (Practical Nurse) only. To complete their studies as a PN, they are required to take the first year of nursing school and then take a four-credit hour summer class plus clinicals. In clinicals, students practice skills in medical settings. Summer class is not required for those students moving on to the second year of nursing school unless they want to work while they finish their ADN. Level II (Year two) student Susan Bruce said, “This is one of the few programs that do offer the PN in addition to the ADN. You can really build experience as you finish the ADN portion of the program if you work as a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse).” About the program she said, “Ask any medical facility around here and they will say hands down that they know that students coming out of Trinidad State’s nursing program are top notch. They prepare us very well to be able to go in to the workforce ready to work.” Nicole Martinez agreed, “This is a well-respected program. It gives us an edge. A lot of companies will look at you over some other schools if you’ve come through this program.”

“Even coming from Alamosa to Colorado Springs at Memorial Hospital where we did our obstetrics (caring for pregnant women through birth and after) and pediatrics (caring for acutely ill children) clinicals, their attitude was ‘You know how to do this. Go do it.’, “said Desiree Martin.

“This program sets you up for success,” said Alicia Berlinger. “Our pass rate is really good for the boards and it has the reputation of being a strong program.” The pass rate for nurses on the Valley Campus in four out of five years was 100 percent.

Instructor Angie Medina who has been working at Trinidad State for seven years said, “I enjoy it. It’s very different from bedside nursing. I see these folks from pre-nursing classes blossom into RNs.”

Dineen manages the Nursing Assistant (NA) program at the college and said that about 30 to 40 per cent of these students typically register for nursing classes at Trinidad State. He can think of six who have already registered for class next fall.

Dineen said, “It’s a really cool thing to go to medical facilities and see former students taking care of people now. The people that come here are typically home-grown and this is where they’re going to stay. I love teaching here.” No doubt many of these graduates are working for San Luis Valley Health which provides for the 50,000 people in this area.

To learn more about the nursing program at Trinidad State, contact Nursing Director LoriRae Hamilton at lorirae.hamilton@trinidadstate.edu or 719-846-5524.

Trinidad State photo
Trinidad State photo

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