In a partnership with the university and Everett Community College, the program is expected to enroll 25 full-time-equivalent students this year through the University Center of North Puget Sound at EvCC.
“We're just delighted, of course,” said Kelly Snyder, director of external and government relations for the UW Bothell.
She said the program, already available at Skagit Valley College, allows registered nurses to earn a bachelor's degree while still working.
“It provides them the opportunity to move up in the ranks in the hospitals,” she said. “It's the next level of education. Employers are looking for that.”
The expansion of the program was approved by the Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire in late April.
Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, the bill's sponsor, said it was attempt to address the shortage of nurses. “The need for more registered nurses is critical, but without enough resources devoted to education programs, we simply will not meet the demand,” he said.
Sells said that in 2007, the average age of the state's registered nurses was 48, with a third age 55 or older. He cited UW studies that indicate the state could be short 25,000 nurses in the next decade.
Snyder said the the UW Bothell program started in 1992 and had 1,400 alumni as of last December.
David Brooks, CEO of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, hailed the program.
“This is a monumental step forward in training highly qualified nurses to care for this community,” he said.
The program will start with the equivalent of 25 students, but eventually will go to as many as 50.
EvCC president David Beyer said the program allows students to stay close to home while earning a bachelor's degree. He said that's the mission of the University Center of North Puget Sound, which is administered by EvCC.
Snyder said the program is recruiting students now. She said the program takes five quarters if someone is working full-time and attending classes one day a week.
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