Historic graduation for local RN's

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

For the first time ever, Weber State University graduated a class of RN's on the Kenai Peninsula. The historic event was the result of an effort that began some 8 years ago with the Utah based Weber State University, according WSU's Nursing Program Director, Dr. Debra Huber.

"We are well known throughout the State of Utah for providing outreach education and currently have seven satellite campuses on-going. We were asked 8 or 10 years ago to provide some support for the State of Alaska because of their tremendous needs for outreach nursing education and the first program was started in Sitka, Alaska. Then in 1995, Dennis Murray contacted us and that's what has culminated with the success of this graduating class," said Huber.

Huber says that the program was delivered through two methodologies including an interactive Internet format to deliver the theory component from the Ogden campus, and real life bedside instruction provided by WSU Clinical Nursing Instructor, Lynn Senette, who lives in Soldotna. The local students had complete access to all services just as if they had been attending the Utah campus. WSU will be starting another outreach nursing class for some 17 students this fall in Homer according to Pam Hugie, WSU Nursing Outreach Coordinator.

"After that class graduates, we're done and your University of Alaska at Anchorage is planning to bring some outreach programs to the Peninsula, and we hope that will work well too," said Hugie.

"There's a lot to be done yet, but our University has committed itself to doubling the number of nurses that graduate through UAA by 2006 and the Peninsula will be part of that effort. The funding is always a challenge and certainly part of the funding for this expansion is in the proposed budget that the legislature is chewing on. They are new funds, so we'll have to wait and see what happens when they get done as to the future of the planned program," added Dennis Murray, Administrator at Heritage Place in Soldotna.

The Class of 2003 included 13 local residents; William Blizzard, Jeremy Chace, Ellie Edmondson, Stacey Espy, Chris Freden, Sara Kolasinski, Heather Knudsen, Elaine Meyer, Maria Victoria McLane, Diana Padgett, Kathryn Richardson, Denise Rosin, and Syerenna VanBruggen.

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