The CNCC opens the path for guaranteed admission to nursing

Colorado Northwestern Community College will soon offer a guaranteed admissions pathway for nursing students.
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

Prospective nursing students at Colorado Northwestern Community College will soon be able to feel confident about progressing to a college nursing degree.

The CNCC is implementing a “guaranteed admissions pathway” for nursing students who begin their college prerequisites – whether this is on the Craig campus, where the nursing school is located, or on campus of Rangely from school. This means that pre-nursing students can ensure that they will be accepted into Craig’s nursing program when they begin their studies at a CNCC campus, provided they meet certain basic requirements.

These students will no longer have to worry about potentially missing out on students from outside the school who might seem more qualified in the competitive entry program.

“Many nursing programs have competitive entry,” said Liz Johnson, associate dean of vocational and technical education at the CNCC. “There is no guarantee that a student will be able to enter – it all depends on who applies. You get students from outside the region. We wanted to make sure it’s available for students to start planning. You ask students to put their lives on hold whether they enter or not.

Johnson, who also teaches anatomy at college, said there were three main benefits to taking this rather unusual step with CNCC nursing school.

First, she explained, is the benefit to the student, of encouraging enrollment in pre-nursing courses while removing the risk that, even with appropriate grades in the prerequisites, he cannot progress.

Second, Johnson said, there’s a benefit to the school.

“We want to make sure that students entering the nursing program have the standards and rigor that we want,” she said. “We’ve seen students take prerequisite courses at institutions that may not have had that rigor, and it quickly shows. We want to reward students who have come through us – even if you get a B in my anatomy class, we know the rigor is there.

Finally is the regional advantage. A system like this is more likely to produce nurses who have ties to the West Slope and are therefore more likely to work at regional health providers, Johnson said.

“If people are coming from outside the area, maybe they don’t intend to stay on the western slope,” Johnson said. “We need nurses here. This will alleviate some of those worries.

Johnson pointed out that CNCC already has a guaranteed admissions pathway into its dental program, but she said doing so in nursing is rarer.

“We want competitive students, but we think we still have that rigor associated with guaranteed admissions,” Johnson said. “It takes more work to get there, but we’re all about student success. We don’t just complicate things. We want them to succeed. »

The CNCC will still accept competitive entry students, but a number of slots will be reserved for guaranteed admission students who will soon progress through the program.

“We’re normally pretty full with competitive entries,” Johnson said, noting that the program is usually at capacity in the 20s with nursing students. “But we will have designated places for guaranteed entry students and for competitive entry students. If we suddenly have 30 students who want to do Fall ’23, we’ll schedule that. If this means we need to work at more clinical sites, using our numbers we will be able to plan accordingly.

Johnson also said the school will recruit instructors as needed, but the nature of guaranteed admissions will make planning easier.

“We are struggling with some limitations, but we will work with our local and regional partners and gain faculty,” she said. “The good news is that guaranteed admission will help us start the process with local hospitals.”

Johnson said the CNCC is hearing from regional hospitals and care centers about the pressure to find new quality nurses to add to their staff.

“Our partners are saying, ‘We need nurses. How can we get them? said Johnson. “It’s always difficult; it is a national need. You can be a traveling nurse and earn tons of money. But people who are already here, who have family here or who have a house here, the chances of them staying here are much higher. Hospitals can see this program and use it to their advantage. Of course, that doesn’t stop hospitals from sending their own students, but now the hospital can be proactive rather than reactive.

An information session will be held Thursday at the college and on Zoom. The event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at Craig’s Campus, 2801 W. 9th St. More information can be found at

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