ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — This weekend, Alaska Pacific University will see 16 students graduate from its nursing programs for the first time in school history.
“It means a lot, to become a guinea pig,” said nursing student Lillian Xiong. “It’s exciting to know that we’re the first to start this, and we’re setting the tone for many more classes and years to come.”
In March, the university received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Nursing Education for its associate and licensure programs in nursing.
Director of Alaska Pacific’s new nursing programs, Marianne Murray, said accreditation is important because it allows students to pass a licensing exam and earn a state license.
“We’re trying to create a pathway or a ladder — stepping stones on the path to nursing,” Murray said.
The accreditation comes as the statewide and nationwide health care industry desperately seeks to fill thousands of positions. Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association President and CEO Jared Kosin said Alaska has more than 6,000 healthcare vacancies each year and a need for more than 1,400 nurses. allowed.
“That’s exactly what we need with the type of vacuum we have,” Kosin said. “…It’s a big moment in terms of momentum, and I think we all need to look at that to try to figure out how we can build other programs around other services.”
Alaska Pacific University’s nursing degree programs are a partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and the school said its degrees emphasize Native lifestyles.
“I am thrilled to be an Alaska Native nurse working at the Alaska Native Hospital,” said Jolean Fultz. “And I hope many more Alaska Natives will follow.”
Many graduates told Alaska’s News Source that they either had jobs or job offers. The university announced that five students would begin a nursing degree program at Utqiagvik in the fall, and said it was also working on a program at Bethel.
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