Health care advocates say Iowa’s had a nursing shortage for years. This week, four college campuses in the state launched programs to train practical nurses or P-Ns. Tim Cole, president of Hamilton College, says campuses in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Mason City now offer training for P-Ns. Cole says all four programs are already booked. Cole says most community colleges in Iowa have extensive waiting lists, of up to a year or more, with people trying to get into nursing programs. The Hamilton campuses in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines have 32 students each, while 24 students are enrolled in the nursing program in Mason City. Cole says it should take about a year for those 120 students to earn their diplomas. From there, they could go directly to work, or continue their schooling to become licensed practical nurses, L-P-Ns, or beyond. Cole says the demand for nurses is great and it’s still growing. He says North Dakota is the oldest state in the U.S. in terms of average age and Iowa’s number-two, so the demographics show our population is aging and the Baby Boomers have the money to pay for health care. Cole says Hamilton College worked closely with the Iowa State Board of Nursing on specific course content to ensure the program is fully consistent with requirements. While he says nobody can really write their own ticket, there are “tremendous employment opportunities” in nursing across Iowa. He says between 25 and 30-percent of the P-N’s in Iowa could retire tomorrow, if they wanted to. Cole says “There’s this tremendous bubble of nurses that are at retirement age which means just to keep up with the nurses that we need right now is going to be a challenge, and then as the population continues to age and demands are placed on the health care system, additional opportunities will become available.” Hamilton’s 12-month diploma program is offered during the day at all four campuses. Hamilton College was established in 1900 in Mason City. For more information, surf to “www.hamiltonia.edu”.
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