Idaho State and Kootenai Health join forces to meet statewide demand for nurses
Individuals earning an accelerated bachelor of science degree will be ready to work in just 12 months
Idaho State University and Kootenai Health are pleased to announce the recent approval to expand delivery of the Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing (ABSN) undergraduate program to the Coeur d’Alene area. The program is currently offered at ISU-Meridian, with up to 50 seats available each year for the 12-month program there and at ISU’s main campus in Pocatello, with up to 40 seats available beginning in 2024. The new cohort in Coeur d’Alene will offer 10 seats for the 12-month program for its first year, and can grow from there. Following completion of prerequisite courses, students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline are eligible to enter the program, receiving accelerated education and training to become a nurse.
This ABSN program expansion to northern Idaho addresses a growing demand across the state, and the nation, for nurses graduating with a baccalaureate degree, who are prepared to take the required exam, called the National Council Licensure Exam (NCEX-RN), and move directly into practice as a registered nurse.
More registered nurses are needed to support staffing and safe patient outcomes across clinical settings, and baccalaureate prepared nurses are in high demand in Idaho. Employers across Idaho’s rural areas have experienced difficulty filling vacant positions because of a nursing shortage in the state, and in the nation. Temporary, traveling nurses have been increasingly hired to fill nursing shortages in Idaho.
A report compiled by the Idaho Nursing Workforce Center at the Idaho Center for Nursing projects Idaho’s shortage of RN’s ranges between 106-523 annually through 2024. Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has placed on all health care sectors, Idaho’s nursing profession also faces retirements of a large number of the incumbent workforce, adding to the shortage. Currently, 29 percent of Idaho’s nurses are 55 years or older, 3 percent of those are 65 years or older. There is an ever-increasing population of older adults also. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 10,000 people turn 65-years old every day nationally, which further increases the demand for compassionate and caring nursing care.
Increasing enrollment is one key strategy to address this growing issue in the state. The ABSN program at ISU offers the opportunity for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in another discipline to make a career change and enter the nursing profession. This program is three semesters (one year) in length, including one summer semester. Courses in Coeur d’Alene will be delivered at the Kootenai Health campus and clinical learning opportunities will be provided to students across the panhandle region, including urban and rural placements.
“We are pleased to welcome ISU’s nursing students to beautiful northern Idaho, and to our health system,” says Kelly Espinoza, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer for Kootenai Health. “We are committed to providing a learning environment that leads to the utmost success for these students, which ultimately translates into improved patient care for those we serve.”
The accelerated baccalaureate nursing program started on the Meridian campus in 2002, consistently expanding to meet growing demand. Over 550 students have graduated from the program since its inception, many of whom remained in the area, helping to fill part of the shortage for nurses. Pass rates on the national examination for RN’s (NCLEX-RN) have been high, and students are employed across various settings including hospitals, clinics, long term care, and public health among other areas.
“We are excited by this inaugural named partnership with Kootenai Health, and understand that we could not have offered this innovative program without their support and collaboration,” says Teresa Conner, dean for the College of Health at ISU. “It truly opens doors for accelerated nursing education and the ability to address the critical nursing shortage in North Idaho.”
Kootenai Health provides comprehensive medical services to patients in northern Idaho and the Inland Northwest. Its main campus is located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and includes a hospital licensed for up to 397 beds. Kootenai is accredited by DNV. It holds Magnet designation for nursing excellence, Level III Trauma Center designation, Level III NICU designation, and accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
To learn more about the ABSN program at Kootenai Health,:
- Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing | Idaho State University (isu.edu)
- Contact: Kim Gratiot, (208) 373-1784, [email protected]
- Kasiska Division of Health Sciences / College of Health / School of Nursing