Editor’s Note: Reporters are welcome to attend both the graduation ceremony, starting at 2 p.m. at the Spokane Opera House, and the convocation ceremony at 6 p.m. at Eastern Washington University in the Pence Union Building in Cheney. Both ceremonies are on Friday, May 11. For more information on Louise Collins or Lamin Sisawo, visit the “Graduate Highlights” page on our Web site at www.nursing.wsu.edu.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The nursing profession is getting a much-needed infusion of eager, well-prepared and diverse nurses. The Intercollegiate College of Nursing/Washington State University College of Nursing will honor its 30th graduating class at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 11 at the Spokane Opera House. This year’s graduates consist of 147 students receiving bachelor’s degrees and 33 receiving master’s degrees.

A growing nursing shortage has placed nursing graduates in high demand. In fact, for the last several semesters, the nursing college has boasted a 100 percent placement rate for its graduates.

“Health care providers have started making offers to students before they finish their programs,” said Anne Hirsch, associate dean for academic affairs. “In addition to high starting salaries, job offers have included such benefits as signing bonuses, child care and student loan repayments.”

Aging baby boomers and increased opportunities for women are two reasons for the shortage, but nursing itself has changed also over the years. Today’s nurses are found in a wide range of leadership positions, offering a powerful and trusted voice in health care and serving as respected members of health care teams. As nursing opportunities grow, so does the need for more nurses.

Louise Collins is one 2001 graduate eager to take on a leadership role. After a car accident ended her career as a floor nurse, she pursued a bachelor’s in nursing and is continuing at the nursing college to earn a master’s degree. Collins plans to work as a family nurse practitioner and run her own part-time clinical practice that specializes in and advocates for diabetes education.

Today’s nurses also are learning to work with patients from diverse backgrounds. Lamin Sisawo, an international student from Gambia who will graduate May 11, plans to return to Gambia one day to care for people in his country. He believes that the multicultural training students receive at the nursing college makes them better nurses and people. Sisawo says he went into nursing because it gives him the opportunity to “provide caring anywhere in the world.” He will work at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle for a time to gain valuable experience before returning to Gambia.

Established in 1968, the Intercollegiate College of Nursing is the nation’s first, oldest and most comprehensive nursing education consortium. The college offers baccalaureate, graduate and professional development course work to nursing students enrolled through its four consortium partners, WSU, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University and Whitworth College. Each year the college educates more than 550 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other state educational institution.