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EWU to join other Spokane-area colleges in offering nursing bachelor's degrees

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Students in EWU's new nursing program will begin their training in the SIERR building at the east end of Spokane's University District.

Eastern says it will admit 80 students a year to help alleviate the region's nursing shortage.

Eastern Washington University is enhancing its role in training nurses in the Inland Northwest. The state has signed off on Eastern’s plans to offer its own bachelor’s degree in nursing.

"For the first time, students who choose to come to Eastern for their undergraduate will be able to complete their degree here," said Donna Bachand, the director of the university's new BSN program.

For years, EWU has combined with the Washington State University College of Nursing. Eastern teaches basic skills during the first two years, then the students finish at the WSU Spokane campus and earn a joint degree.

Bachand says it will add to the supply of nurses in an area that needs them.

“We have almost a thousand jobs posted in Spokane and many of those are entry-level jobs, so students will be employed very quickly after graduation" she said. “I anticipate that we’ll have three or four times more applications than we have seats available. The demand for nursing education is really high."

Bachand says the university will accept 80 students a year, starting with 40 who will enroll next fall. The program will begin accepting applications in January.

The students will be based just a few blocks away from where WSU and Gonzaga nursing students are learning, in the Spokane Inland Empire Railroad building on the eastern edge of the U-District.

“We are currently constructing space that will include classrooms to accommodate 40 students each. We’re building simulation labs. We’re building a nursing skills lab for skills practice and offices for about 14 full-time faculty and staff," Bachand said.

She says the new program will serve as an incentive for some of Eastern’s 200 pre-nursing students to stick around and finish their degrees, rather than transferring to other institutions.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.