By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – Lawmakers hope to stem a nursing shortage that threatens to dramatically affect health care in some of the state’s most rural hospitals.
HB-1068 would allow community colleges to extend their nursing programs from two-year associate’s degrees to four-year bachelor’s degrees to encourage students to complete their courses and then work in the industry in Colorado.
Hope Szypulski, the director of the nursing program at Arapahoe Community College, says the nursing shortage is due, in part, to students who’ve had to move out of state to complete their degree because they are unable to afford tuition at Colorado universities.
“Some people do step out due to funding, or their credits won’t transfer, or they can’t find a program that doesn’t fit,” said Szypulski.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Colorado loses about 450 nursing jobs every year and is on pace to have 4,500 vacant nursing position by the year 2024.
“It’s going to be a seamless transition for our students to go from a 2 to a 4 year degree,” Szypulski said.
Small town hospitals could benefit the most where there is already a community college.
The bill has bipartisan support and is currently under consideration.