The U.S. Department of Labor is predicting that the employment rate for nurses is expected to grow 26 percent in the decade 2010-2020, faster than the average for all other occupations. It is no surprise that programs destined to train nurses are at a high demand. One such program at Coconino Community College is producing qualified and well-trained nurses to serve the needs of Flagstaff, the surrounding community and state.
Don Johnson has been the director of the nursing program at Coconino Community College for nine years, almost since its inception. He is very proud of their program and the students that graduate each semester.
“This program is a four-semester Associate’s Degree program that takes most student three and a half years to complete. We take 20 to 25 students each semester but usually have 50 to 70 applicants.” Johnson tells prospective students to “expect 50 to 60 hour weeks” while in school. He and his selection committee are looking for students that are “motivated and want to learn.” Students in the program range in age from 19 to 54, with the average age being “30-something”
Sarah Brown completed the Coconino program in May, saying that the program “exceeded my expectations in every way.” Brown graduated from high school five years ago and wanted to become a nurse because of her personal experiences with her grandfather and mother. Brown’s mother died when she was young but her mother had shared through her journal about the compassion and care she received from the nurses around her. Then Brown helped to care for her grandfather and knew, even before she graduated from high school, that she wanted to become a nurse. She applied at Coconino and was interviewed prior to being accepted into the program. Although she described the interview process as “scary,” she felt it really helped prepare her for what was to come.
Coconino’s program, according to Brown, was “hands on,” with field experiences at the Flagstaff Medical Center and the hospital at Tuba City. “My instructors were passionate and caring,” she said, adding that Johnson and Janis McMillan (an instructor in the Nursing program) “are two of the most inspirational people I know.” She felt this program gave her an opportunity to develop many skills by working with different people from diverse backgrounds.
Classes and field experiences are taught, according to Johnson, to help prepare students to pass the very challenging Arizona Board of Nursing Test for licensure. Brown is scheduled to take her Boards soon and if she does as well as the students who graduated in December, she should have no problem passing. Johnson said 100 percent of the December graduates from Coconino who took their Boards passed on their first try, which is almost unheard of.
Meanwhile, Brown is looking ahead and anxious for her first job as a Registered Nurse. She is hoping that a position at Flagstaff Medical Center will become available since many nurses who complete the Coconino program find employment at FMC. She knows that the Coconino program will enable her at some point to enter Northern Arizona University’s program where she can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In the meantime, she is happy that she completed a program that she felt was “amazing and affordable.”
Arizona Board of Nurses lists 73,083 “active Registered Nurses” on its website, but that number will keep growing. The Occupational Outlook Handbook for the Department of Labor indicates that the demand for nurses will continue to grow “primarily because of technological advancements; an increased emphasis on preventative care; and the large, aging baby-boomer population will demand more health care services as they live longer and more active lives.” FBN
For more information about Coconino Community College Nursing program, visit: HYPERLINK “http://www.coconino.edu/academics/career/Nursing/Pages/default.aspx” http://www.coconino.edu/academics/career/Nursing/Pages/default.aspx