Nursing is Western’s fastest growing major

Shawntaye Hopkins

Western is growing fast, but the nursing department is running leaps and bounds ahead of everything.

Over the last two school years, nursing has been the fastest growing major on the Hill.

In the fall of 2000, the nursing program had 160 students seeking admission to the major and by the fall of 2002 there were 289 students seeking admission. That’s an increase of 129 students in just two years, according to Western’s 2003 fact book.

The nursing program admits 60 students into the major each year.

Nursing Department head Donna Blackburn said it wasn’t too long ago that the applicant pool was down.

More students are applying because there is a nursing shortage, Blackburn said.

The Commonwealth Health Association has donated money to add more faculty positions so the department can add more majors, Blackburn said.

Blackburn has seen many registered nurses coming back to get their bachelor’s degree.

The nursing program at South Campus is growing even faster than at the main campus. South Campus offers a two-year associate’s degree.

In the fall of 2000 there were 163 students seeking admission and by fall of 2002 there were 345 students seeking admission.

Associate Nursing Program Director Martha Houchin said the shortage is the biggest reason for the increase.

“There is ample employment opportunity when the student graduates,” Houchin said.

Houchin also credits enrollment growth to good accessibility at South Campus. Students can also get scholarships through hospitals, Houchin said. After they graduate they must work as an RN for that hospital for one year.

The Associate Nursing Program admits 50 students in the fall and 50 students in the spring at South Campus. They also admit 30 students at Glasgow in the fall and 10 nurse practitioners.

“We have increased the number of students admitted each year due to money from CHC and T.J. Sampson Hospital,” Houchin said.

With that money, the department has been able to add five new faculty positions.

“It’s hard to turn people away,” Houchin said. “Western has to maintain high quality.”

Bowling Green junior Heather Stovall originally wanted to go to medical school but has decided on nursing instead.

“I always wanted to go into health care,” she said. “I really liked nursing because it was holistic and you get to spend time with the patients.”

Stovall also likes the fact that she can get a job anywhere. She plans to be a nurse practitioner after she graduates.

Reach Emily Gries at [email protected]