“Many factors contribute to nursing shortages locally and nationally,” said Renee Hoeksel, director of Washington State University Vancouver’s nursing programs. Among them are stagnant nursing school enrollments, increasing numbers of retiring nurses and an increased complexity of nursing expectations and tasks.

“Hospital nursing salaries and autonomy have not kept pace either,” she said. “Many nurses have turned to other opportunities including school nursing, health occupational nursing, health care consulting, others have started their own businesses.”

Since 1989, WSU Vancouver has awarded nursing degrees to more than 200 graduates. After completing their degrees, most continue to work in health care positions throughout southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.

“However, the word about the nursing shortage is out. In our area, enrollments are up and recruitment is working very well. Longview, Vancouver and Portland, Ore., area nursing programs have had to turn students away,” Hoeksel said.

Each year, WSU Vancouver enrolls about 50 new undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Vancouver classes are also sent via satellite to students in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Yakima.

This spring, WSU Vancouver awarded 13 bachelor’s and 18 master’s degrees. Among the graduates were award winners Janie Darby (Castle Rock) and Laurie Brown (Vancouver). Both are examples of the ambition and success of WSU Vancouver’s nursing program graduates, program director said.

A full-time student, wife, mother and nurse, Darby graduated from WSU Vancouver with her Master of Science in Nursing in the Nurse Practitioner track. This year she received a WSU President’s Award and recognition as the WSU College of Nursing’s Outstanding Master of Nursing Student Fall 2001. Darby also completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at WSU Vancouver in 2000 and was recognized as WSU Vancouver’s Outstanding Undergraduate Nursing Student. As a student, she served as president of the nursing club and coordinated a toy drive for the YWCA’s abused women’s shelter during the holidays. For the last 10 years, she has worked in critical care at Providence Centralia Hospital. This summer, she takes her Family Nurse Practitioner national board certification exam. In fall, she begins with the Cascade Emergency Associates in Longview working minor emergency for PeaceHealth – St. John Medical Center. “The WSU Vancouver nursing program and faculty really work with students knowing that they have other obligations,” said Darby who worked three 12-hour shifts each week, while earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Darby can be reached at dlent@kalama.com.

Brown, was recognized as the College of Nursing’s Outstanding Master of Nursing Student Spring 2002 for her dedication to the field and training of future nurses. She also received the Julie Ebreck Nursing Award in 2001. Her Master of Science in Nursing is her third graduate degree. She also has a Master’s of Public Administration and Master’s in Health Care Administration from Portland State University. While attending school and working in Kaiser Permanente’s Anticoagulation Unit, Brown taught as an adjunct instructor at Clark College. This fall, she begins her role as a full-time tenure-track instructor for Clark’s nursing program. Besides teaching, Brown hopes to raise awareness about the role genetics play in risk for breast and ovarian cancer. While enrolled at WSU Vancouver, Brown’s mother, a breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Brown asked, “What are the odds of having both in a lifetime?” What she found was life altering. Since then, Brown has been proactive about her risk for cancer, having both a bilateral masectomy and oophrectomy. She has also educated her family and given a presentation at the National Nursing Symposium in Las Vegas. Contact Laurie by phone (360) 892-4977 or e-mail rnlaurie3@attbi.com.