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Fifteen students became the first graduates of the nursing program July 29 at Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks.
The associate in science in nursing degree program began at the Lake of the Ozarks campus in June 2005. Designed as a dual-track program, the degree caters both to students without prior nursing education (generic track) and licensed practical nurses who wish to become registered nurses (bridge track). Carol Walter, nursing coordinator at the Lake campus, said in the first graduating class from the program there are 14 generic students and one bridge student.
Walter said the program has increased enrollments in the two nursing classes that have followed, with 19 students enrolled in October 2005 and 27 students enrolled in March 2006. She hopes the campus will increase that number to 32, maintaining a similar enrollment level in future classes.
Eleven of the students who graduated in July already have accepted positions in Lake Regional Health System, Walter said, and others will work in the Jefferson City and Moberly areas.
An externship program at Lake Regional Hospital has offered students special training in critical care areas such as intensive care, step-down and emergency room, Walter said. The hospital also provides the nursing program with medical equipment for training and offers each class eight $10,000 scholarships for students who commit to work three years at Lake Regional Hospital. "They are very excited to have the majority of our graduates come to work for them," Walter said.