Editor’s Note: Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend both the graduation ceremony, May 9 starting at 2 p.m. at the Spokane Opera House, and the convocation ceremony at beginning at 6 p.m. in Showalter Hall on the Eastern Washington University Cheney campus.

1-1:30 p.m.: Selected nursing students available for interviews in the lobby area of the Spokane Opera House. Please contact Susan Nielsen, 509/991-9151, for assistance.

5:30-5:55 p.m.: Students, families and College of Nursing administrators available for interviews prior to convocation. Please contact Susan Nielsen, (509) 991-9151, for assistance.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The 141 bachelor’s and master’s degree nursing students graduating Friday, May 9, from the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/Washington State University College of Nursing are stepping into a profession eager to have them begin working as soon as possible.

A growing international 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. In sharp contrast to the massive layoffs seen in other professions, nursing is a field where new college graduates can easily find a job of choice.

The spring 2003 graduating class consists of 120 students receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and 21 receiving a Master in Nursing degree from the WSU College of Nursing campuses in Spokane, Yakima, Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Walla Walla.

Salaries for new graduates, ranging from $40,000-$60,000, have many students comparing offers and accepting positions in highly specialized areas. Some offers include sign-on bonuses, relocation costs and tuition reimbursements.

“I accepted a position in the progressive cardiac unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore.,” said Erika Rittmann, a 22-year-old student graduating with a BSN degree. “They offered to pay for my travel to the interview, provided an attractive signing bonus, an awesome salary and agreed to relocation costs for my fiancé and I to move to Eugene. It was a great package and I accepted.”

Several undergraduate students have been offered positions at Children’s Hospital in Seattle. Christine Lundberg, a 21-year-old BSN graduate, has accepted a position in the surgical unit at the hospital. “I gave my resume to a recruiter during our campus Career Fair in March, and received a call three days later for an interview. I was actually offered two positions and chose the surgical unit because of my interest in cardiac care. The salary, benefits and tuition reimbursement offered by Children’s really appealed to me.”

As the largest single health care profession, employment for registered nurses will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2008, with a million new and replacement nurses needed by 2010 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The nursing shortage is expected to intensify over the next decade as baby boomers age and a large percentage of the current nursing workforce retires. As a high demand profession now and to the future, more students are considering nursing as a career.

“We have three qualified applicants for every undergraduate opening. We would certainly take more students, but we’re limited by funding constraints,” said Dorothy Detlor, dean of the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing.

Nursing has also become attractive to those who already have one or more careers or degrees. Jason Wiens, a 29-year-old student receiving a BSN degree, has accepted a position in the advanced cardiac unit at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane. Wiens already has a B.S. in biology and an M.S. in exercise physiology. He chose to pursue nursing because he wanted to continue his education, was drawn to the medical field, and nursing fit his desire to work with people. “I looked at several medical career options but chose nursing because I wanted to work in a compassionate, human environment.”

Friday evening following graduation, students will participate in a nursing tradition demonstrated though a convocation ceremony. During the ceremony students receive their nursing pin and are able to share with classmates, faculty and family members their future nursing career plans. “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.