CCCS nursing students smiling together

New statute will increase affordability, options for Colorado nursing students

HB18-1086, “Community College Bachelor Science Degree Nursing,” became law, setting the stage for the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) to offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) completion programs.

Colorado needs more BSN-prepared nurses, and with this legislation, CCCS will now be able to deliver them!. We are ready, willing and able to respond to this workforce need, and look forward to presenting new academic offerings that will create a healthier Colorado.

– System President Dr. Nancy McCallin

The Colorado Community College System developed this legislation in response to requests from healthcare providers who expressed growing concern about the state’s looming shortage of skilled nurses. The bill received robust support from a significant number of individuals, from healthcare providers and industry organizations, to economic development organizations and local elected officials. By greatly expanding the options available to nursing students, this legislation will help address the nursing shortage, and improve healthcare outcomes across Colorado.

Bill sponsor Representative Janet Buckner thanked her colleagues in both chambers for their support of the bill, remarking

I have met with many community college faculty and nursing students in the course of developing this legislation, and it is clear to me that they are passionate about meeting this important workforce need. It just makes sense to enable the community colleges to offer BSN completion programs, especially when you consider how desperately Colorado needs BSN-prepared nurses!

Representative Paul Lundeen, also a bill sponsor, submitted a guest opinion piece to The Denver Post that read in part “Local healthcare providers are very concerned about the impact this shortage could have on their operations. By ensuring that Colorado’s nursing students have additional options for their education that are accessible and affordable, this policy will let the market respond.”

Colorado is currently experiencing an annual shortage of at least 500 nurses with four-year BSN degrees, and this figure is expected to grow to a cumulative shortage of 4,500 nurses with BSNs by 2024. Local health care providers have resorted to “importing” nurses from other states to fill positions, which puts upward pressure on healthcare costs. HB18-1086 would help address this shortage by enabling institutions that are part of the state system of community colleges to offer four-year BSN completion degrees.

As a practicing physician, I can tell you that nurses are critical to positive healthcare outcomes. Colorado is already in the grips of a nursing shortage, and it’s threatening to impact the quality of patient care. The need for skilled nurses is only going to increase, and as a state, we need to do everything we can to help address this crisis.

– Sponsor Senator Irene Aguilar

This legislation is about creating opportunities for Coloradans to succeed. There are hundreds of job openings for skilled nurses every year in Colorado that are going unfilled. And there are hundreds of nurses who would love to have those jobs, if they just had an affordable, accessible way to get the additional training and education they need. This bill will go a long way toward striking down the barriers that stand in their way.

– Sponsor Senator Tim Neville