New FRCC Bachelor’s Degree to Help Alleviate the Statewide Nursing Shortage

Front Range Community College has received approval to offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The move will help meet a growing need for skilled healthcare providers in Colorado, while also providing students with an affordable route to good jobs in their home state.

At its July 12th meeting, the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education approved FRCC’s program to offer the new four-year degree at the college’s Fort Collins and Westminster Campuses.

“This allows our students who have completed an associate degree with us—or are enrolled in our nursing program—to finish their Bachelor of Science degree right here at FRCC,” said Front Range Community College President Andy Dorsey.

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.

FRCC-Westminster’s assistant nursing program director Suzanne Villiers emphasized that the demand is increasing, in part because many baby boomers are retiring. “Our new program, along with others around the state, will help meet that need.”

“Many healthcare providers now require their nurses to have a bachelor’s degree,” Villiers added. “The BSN offering will allow more of our trained, skilled nurses to graduate and go directly into the workforce.”

“For too many years, prospective nurses have only had one option for a BSN: an expensive education at a university,” added Mark Longshore, chair of the nursing department at FRCC’s Larimer Campus. “By offering a BSN through Front Range Community College, our graduates—already respected for their patient care skills—will now be considered on equal footing with the university graduates for employment. That’s cost-effective quality.”

“There’s a high demand for our existing programs—more than we can accommodate,” added Dorsey. “This is an affordable option that will help our students get good jobs. Beyond that, we expect to see positive outcomes for patient care, health care costs and the economy in Colorado.”

The state legislature passed a law earlier this year allowing community colleges in Colorado to offer the four-year degree. 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. Collectively the programs offered by community colleges are expected to make a substantial difference.

FRCC expects to begin offering the BSN degree program by 2020 at the latest. The next step will be for the proposal to go forward to the Higher Learning Commission for accreditation. The final step will be approval from the Colorado Board of Nursing and a national nursing accreditation agency.

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About Front Range Community College

FRCC offers nearly 100 degree and certificate programs from locations in Boulder County, Larimer County, Westminster, and Brighton, and online. FRCC is a member of the Colorado Community College System.

About the Colorado Community College System

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, serving 138,000 students annually at 13 colleges and 39 locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities.

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