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‘Scrub hats off’ for new nursing program

Wowsers! I’m doing back flips, jumping up and down nonstop after hearing the announcement made by President Tom Stritikus that Fort Lewis College will soon offer a program for Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

This is gigantic news, especially for rural and Indigenous health care in the Southwest. For decades, even before COVID-19, a nursing shortage has crippled all hospitals. Since the pandemic, another 30% of nurses are planning to quit. Nurse burnout is a thing.

When a hospital has too few nurses, the remaining staff is forced to work up to 60 hours each week. Burnout happens when exhaustion and unsafe “nurse-to-patient” ratios exist, week after week. I know these statistics are real because I am a retired registered nurse. I have bad knees and a sore back after experiencing staff shortages and burnout the 45 years I worked night shift trauma as an Operating Room nurse. (Me doing backflips was metaphoric.)

Fortunately, several hospitals have started successful nurse retention programs with safer nurse-to-patient ratios. But now, where are the nurses?

Scrub hats off to Stritikus, and Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper for acquiring funding and supporting the creation of this very fine University of Colorado Nursing-FLC collaboration. A nursing degree program will be a wonderful addition to FLC because it includes several “drams” each of engineering, sociology, cultural diversity, chemistry, psychology, physics, math, spiritual studies and, of course, lots of Mother Teresa.

Barbara Day