Nursing Student Practicing taking blood pressure on medical mannequin

To remedy Colorado’s nursing shortage, SB 003 would allow community colleges to offer an LPN to BSN bridge program

To help remedy Colorado’s nursing shortage, state Senators Janet Bucker and Kerry Donovan and Representatives Kyle Mullica and Tony Exum introduced a bill that would allow Colorado community colleges to offer a streamlined, more cost-effective pathway specifically for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to earn bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Today, the bill passed the Senate Education committee unanimously and now moves to the Senate for further debate.  

The bill responds to industry demands for more bachelor’s prepared nurses in the workforce, which is experiencing critical shortages exacerbated by the pandemic and nurse retirements. Burning Glass data reports that there were more than 36,500 total job postings for bachelors-prepared nurses between September 2020 and August 2021—a whopping 700% increase from 2018. 

“With the aging population and increasing access to healthcare, nursing is projected be one of the fastest growing, most in-demand careers through 2030,” Sen. Buckner said. “To respond to these workforce needs, Senate Bill 003 will allow community colleges to offer accessible, affordable, and faster training to a wider group of aspiring nurses.”  

In addition to paving a clear path for career advancement, the Bridge program would save LPNs time and money by reducing the curriculum to three years instead of the traditional four. Colleges will also offer online and hybrid formats to fit students’ schedules. Currently 11 CCCS colleges offer the Licensed Practical Nurse program, enrolling a total of 600 students each year. 

“Having the opportunity to stay at Community College of Denver (CCD) to complete my RN, as well as a bachelor’s nursing degree, would mean everything to me, because I have built my life here in order to pursue my dream of working in healthcare,” said Christian, a CCD LPN student who testified at Wednesday’s hearing. “Many people who are enrolled in my LPN program are non-traditional adult students like me–we have families and many responsibilities outside the classroom. If CCD is able to offer an LPN to BSN bridge program, their flexible course offerings would mean that I could complete my degree while I work.” 

For updates on the bill, visit the Colorado General Assembly website