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Nursing curriculum is ready for review

WINSTED — Northwestern Connecticut Community College’s new nursing program is poised to clear another important hurdle next week, with the curriculum scheduled to be presented to the board of trustees of Community-Technical Colleges on Monday.

Before it can be offered as one of the Winsted school’s degrees available to students, the program must be reviewed and approved by various state boards and commissions.

Earlier this month, the program received its first stamp of approval when it was was given the green light by the Connecticut State Board of Examiners for Nursing.

NCCC President Barbara Douglass told The Winsted Journal Monday that although the nursing board’s review is only one of “multiple approvals” that must be collected before the degree program can come online, it is perhaps the most significant.

“Because we are being judged by other nurses,” Douglass said.

After the program is reviewed by the board of trustees, it will be presented to the state Department of Higher Education.

Douglass said the the college remains on track to bring the nursing program online by January 2011.

The school expects to begin accepting applications for admission to the program this fall. Douglass said that first class will have openings for 24 students.

That number, however, will eventually increase to a total of 80 students enrolled in the program, with 40 working to complete their first year of study and 40 working through their second and final year.

The Winsted school’s nursing curriculum will mirror similar programs already in place at five other state community colleges.

The Connecticut Community Colleges Nursing Program (CT-CCNP) is a two-year, four-semester track that awards students who complete the program an associate’s degree in science.

Program graduates are then eligible to take the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses. Graduates can also apply for licensure through the Connecticut State Board of Examiners for Nursing.

NCCC currently offers several health-care related programs, including about 140 students who are now enrolled as pre-nursing majors.

Students who have entered the pre-nursing program at NCCC, however, have had to transfer to other institutions to complete their degrees. This has helped to create a significant shortage of qualified nurses living and working in the Northwest Corner of the state.

State medical officials have projected that by 2013, there will be a 46-percent deficit in the number of nurses needed to fill positions in Litchfield County, and the number willing and able to work here.

In addition, the county’s nursing vacancy rate is expected to be double the statewide average over the next 10 years.

Last month NCCC celebrated the official announcement that it had received $350,000 in federal funding to help start the nursing program.

The grant money was included in appropriations legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and then signed into law by President Barack Obama late last year.

That funding has been added to the $1 million in contributions the school had already raised to support the program through a private capital campaign. It has been estimated that some $1.4 million is needed to get the program off the ground and running.

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