NCCC nursing program one step closer to reality- The Register Citizen News - Northwest Connecticut's Daily Newspaper

Northwestern Connecticut Community College’s nursing program took another step towards reality Wednesday as it received clearance from the state to begin instruction.

The Connecticut State Board of Nursing Examiners, a division of the state’s Department of Public Health, was reportedly very impressed with the college’s plans for the program, according to NCCC President Barbara Douglass.

“We are absolutely delighted. Of course we have been in this process for three years now, so to get this first regulatory approval, which is crucial to moving forward, is huge for us,” she said.

The program must now gain approval from the college’s Board of Trustees and the Department of Higher Education befor classes can begin.

“I feel particularly flattered and appreciative that nurses verified the need in the Northwest Corner and blessed our report,” said Douglass.

Financing is nearly complete, as NCCC had raised around $1 million towards it by the end of 2009, and recently recieved a $350,000 federal grant to supplement its other fund raising. Early estimates for the total cost of bringing it to the school came in around $1.4 million.

The college will begin taking applicants in the fall as it prepares to bring in its first nursing class of about 24 students in the spring. Between now and then, a department director and two full-time faculty members will be hired.

Once the 18-month program is in full swing, each class will include around 80 students, and the school will employ five full-time faculty members to man the department. With the program’s arrival still a year away, 140 students at the college have already declared themselves to be pre-nursing majors, Douglass said.

The initative has been hailed as a way to help train students to fill the growing need for nurses in the state, as well as promote the college and attract more young people to the Winsted area.

Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce President JoAnn Ryan said the program could have far-reaching implications for the local economy.

“We are so extremely proud of the board and the entire college and the community for supporting this endeavor. We’ve been working very cosely in support of everything they’re doing...with regard to filling a void in careers,” she said.

Douglass said the program will also give the college an added draw, and give current students more options as they prepare to enter the job market.

“For students it means very well paid jobs, and for the college it means attracting more students,” she said.