More registered nurses (RN) on the Eastern Plains have access to a streamlined pathway to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) thanks to a $50,000 grant awarded to the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges.
The Foundation was selected by Telligen Community Initiative last July and has partnered with Morgan Community College (MCC) to expand their RN to BSN program to Lamar Community College, Northeastern Junior College (NJC), and Otero College. The pathway upskills working RNs to prepare them for advanced roles with higher salaries.
“As the state’s largest provider of healthcare training, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) and our colleges are key to building a sustainable and skilled workforce,” said Adam Cermak, executive director of the Foundation. “The Foundation is pleased to partner with Telligen Community Initiative and our four Eastern Plains colleges to address the critical need for nurses in rural communities.”
“The Telligen Grant has allowed Morgan Community College to offer a high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to nurses working across the eastern region of Colorado, covering over 28,000 square miles.” – Dr. Jennifer Thistle, MCC director of nursing education.
The program aims to meet significant workforce demands for highly skilled nurses, especially in rural areas. At least 500 positions requiring a BSN degree have gone unfilled in Colorado over the last several years, resulting in an estimated shortage of 4,500 bachelor’s-prepared nurses.
“The Telligen Grant has allowed MCC to offer a high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to nurses working across the eastern region of Colorado, covering over 28,000 square miles,” said Dr. Jennifer Thistle, MCC director of nursing education. “Nurses enrolled in the RN to BSN program can complete all schoolwork, including their on-site hours, at local rural sites that serve the communities they work and live in.”
Students take courses online and can complete their BSN within three to five semesters, depending on previous coursework. Beyond learning advanced skills in patient care and clinical reasoning, RN to BSN students hone communications and leadership skills—helping them move up the career ladder or potentially teach nursing.
“The Telligen Grant and related rural college partnerships have done so much to help expand the reach of the BSN program,” said Dr. Curt Freed, president of MCC. “The program is essential for creating a nurse leadership pipeline, but also to help grow more nurse educators that are desperately needed throughout the region.”
Because of their diverse skillset, BSN graduates are increasingly attractive to healthcare employers. An American Association of Colleges of Nursing survey found that more than 80% of healthcare employers preferred hiring nurses with BSNs, and 41% of facilities now require BSNs for nursing jobs.
NJC hopes the new pathway will not only keep up with these industry trends but provide students with improved career opportunities.
“When rural community colleges work together, we can deliver powerful results for our students providing them with job mobility, higher salaries and career long learning,” said RADM Mike White, president of NJC. Our students will benefit from this opportunity to upskill with a nearby community college, leveraging the collaboration we have within CCCS.”