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High Demand Causes Long Waiting Lists in Nursing Program

By Manuel Guerrero
Nursing Student During Practical Training

Seeing students in scrubs is not an uncommon sight at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), as nursing degrees and certificates are in high demand.

New students thinking of entering the field may find it daunting because of the wait time, requirements and overall commitment, but getting informed is the first step in the right direction to entering the Nursing Program.

EMCC is one of eight Maricopa Community Colleges that offers these programs and certificates and it is the closest college for prospective students in the West Valley.

New students must attend a Pre-Nursing Information Session before seeing an advisor. Sessions are offered Mondays and Thursdays in the spring and fall semesters. Students must also take an admission test before enrolling in program or certificate courses, and some require background checks.

What many new students may not be aware of is the current two-year wait list to get accepted to the Associates Registered Nurse Program. Fortunately, it is “first come, first serve, so you don’t lose your place,” according to Clarissa Ruiz, advisor for nursing programs at EMCC.

There is also a concurrent bachelor’s degree path through Northern Arizona University. “The good thing about the bachelor’s is that it can also be completed at EMCC,” according to Ruiz.

The regulatory and accrediting agencies, such as the Board of Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), only allow a 10:1 ratio of students to teachers in the clinical setting and the teachers must have a Master of Science in Nursing and a minimum of two years of working experience to teach in a classroom setting. There is also limited clinical space. All of these requirements make it difficult to keep up with the demand.

Ruiz advises students to talk to her so she can help them formulate a plan to take the necessary pre-requisite courses.

She also advises students, while on the waitlist, to take a certificate program like Phlebotomy, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to gain experience in other aspects of nursing.

According to Ruiz, certificate programs such as these are also an option for students “looking to get a specific job, like at a long-term care facility or a rehabilitation center.”

Ruiz says it’s not an easy path to become a RN, but with a good support system, it’s possible. The other certificates also help students to get established in the field without having to travel across the state to get certified.

The options are available at EMCC for all kinds of careers. Students just need to get informed and create a path towards their educational goals.