Editor’s Note: Reporters and photographers 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. in the Cowles Auditorium on the Whitworth College campus, 300 W. Hawthorne Road. Both ceremonies will be held on Friday, May 10. Please refer to the WSU Spokane commencement news release for details regarding student availability prior to commencement ceremonies.

1:00-1:20 p.m.: Selected nursing students available for interviews in the breezeway at the Spokane Opera House. Please contact Susan Nielsen for assistance.

5:45-5:55 p.m.: Students, families and College of Nursing administrators available for interviews prior to convocation. Convocation will be held in the Cowles Auditorium on the Whitworth College campus located at 300 W. Hawthorne Road. Please contact Susan Nielsen for assistance.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Most of the 134 bachelor’s and master’s degree nursing students graduating May 10 from the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/Washington State University College of Nursing haven’t had to look far for high paying, location-specific nursing positions.

A growing nursing shortage has placed nursing graduates in high demand. For the past several semesters, College of Nursing graduates have been inundated with offers from throughout the health care sector.

This spring’s graduates consist of 118 students receiving a B.S. in nursing and 16 receiving a master in nursing degree from the WSU College of Nursing campuses in Spokane, Yakima, Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Walla Walla. Most of these graduates faced having to pick and choose between multiple professional offers.

“Health care providers have been making professional offers to students well before they finish their programs,” said Dorothy Detlor, dean of the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing. “Many students are finding it difficult to select between the multiple offers, particularly where an incentive or bonus is involved.”

Nurses are at the core of quality and consistent patient care. As the largest single health care profession, employment for registered nurses will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2008 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). As a high demand profession now and to the future, more students are considering nursing as a career.

The college admits 80 undergraduate students per semester in Spokane and 12 undergraduate students per year in Yakima. Additional funding this year from hospitals in Spokane and Yakima allowed the college to admit more students than expected. Applications for the College of Nursing were up 43 percent over this time last year, said Detlor. “We have three qualified applicants for every opening. We would certainly take more students, but we’re limited by funding from the state legislature.”

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.

Brad Hemingway, a new graduate receiving a BSN, is headed to Phoenix, Arizona where he plans to work in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. “It’s an opportunity to work at a great teaching hospital, in an excellent city with an attractive salary,” Hemingway said.

Adam Richards, a new graduate receiving a BSN, has been has been offered a full-time RN position in the emergency room at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane. “I’ve been working as a nurse technician at Deaconess for several months,” Richards said. “I feel entirely at ease within the emergency and critical care arena including trauma situations. My goal is to be part of the MedStar flight team.”

This week also marks National Nurses Week (May 6-12) celebrating the nursing profession and recognizing the significant contribution nurses and nursing make to the quality of health care in the community. The essence of caring and the art of nursing is demonstrated every day in many ways. The proud tradition of nursing is demonstrated during a convocation ceremony held following commencement. During the ceremony students receive their nursing pin and are able to share with classmates, faculty and family members their plans for their future nursing career.

“This ceremony is a touching and powerful reminder of the strong bond nurses share from generation to generation,” said Dean Detlor.

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 600 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other state educational institution.