A landmark was reached in Nurses Education in the spring 2003 when the first class of 13 students to earn an associates degree in Nursing without leaving the Kenai Peninsula graduated. This month a second class of 15 students from the Soldotna, Sterling, and Homer area will be starting the second semester of their LPN year.
In 2005, these students will graduate and be ready to sit for their Registered Nurses State Board license. According to Lynn Sennette, Weber State University Clinical Instructor, this will be the last class for Weber State U. on the Peninsula because in 2005, UAA will be starting their nursing education program on the Peninsula. The Weber program has provided a unique opportunity for local residents to complete their nursing degree and has been a step in mitigating the present shortage of RN's in Alaska.
Marivic McLane of Soldotna is a mother of two children who graduated this spring and now works as an RN at Heritage Place, "The program meant a lot to me I was able to spend time with the family while I furthered my education. It gave me the opportunity to develop a career while balancing my family time. A career in nursing is very rewarding, it has met my expectations, and has increased my self esteem, I'm thankful for the opportunity," said McLane.
There remains a shortage of qualified Nurses in the Central Peninsula. According to Dennis Murray, Administrator for Heritage Place, the recent graduating class of 13 nurses through Weber State has helped, "No one group can solve these workforce issues alone. Continued partnerships, collaborations, and funding are key to growing our own. Scholarships/revolving loans, have made more than $8,000 available to nursing students," said Murray. The Nursing Education Consortium through Bridges Community Resource Agency is making available four $500 scholarships for the spring semester of 2004. Anyone interested can contact Carrie Burford at KPC, 262-4571, or Lee Jackson at CPGH, 714-4720, or Dennis Murray, Heritage Place Nursing Facility, at 260-4571.
The group is planning its second community fundraiser/auction on Valentine's Day, Saturday, February 14th at the Kenai Senior Center. Volunteers will be soliciting donations of auction items and selling tickets for the gala event. "The community was very generous last year raising over $11,000 that has been made available to local students, and were hoping our second event will be equally successful this year. I want to thank everyone in advance for their participation; having qualified nurses is everyone's business. Tickets will be available soon and we promise to wine and dine you," said Sennette.
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