NEW LONDON — As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the importance of health-care workers, Colby-Sawyer College has seen a significant increase in deposits from accepted nursing students.

With two weeks remaining until the college’s June 1 deadline to enroll for the fall semester, Colby-Sawyer has received deposits from 90 students accepted into the state’s top-ranked undergraduate nursing program. These deposits mark a 34 percent increase from the 62 students who enrolled in the program last fall, and a 64 percent increase in the number of nursing graduates in the Class of 2020.

“More and more students are interested in pursuing careers in nursing and the health sciences because, now more than ever, they see these professions as ways to directly help others,” said Kevin Finn, dean of the School of Nursing & Health Sciences. “During times like these, I think a lot of people are looking for ways they can make a positive impact on society, and health-care is a great way to make a difference.”

Colby-Sawyer’s undergraduate nursing program is ranked first in New Hampshire by registerednursing.org, with more than 80 percent of nursing graduates going on to accept positions with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system. The college's nursing graduates consistently surpass the national pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination, with a four-year average pass rate of 99 percent.

“I think prospective students see both the quality of our program, as well as the infinite amount of possibilities that come as part of the college’s partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health,” Finn said. “Students, especially those considering careers in health care, do a lot of research when considering colleges, and I think these figures speak to the quality of what Colby-Sawyer has to offer them.”

Beginning in fall 2020, Colby-Sawyer will offer bachelor’s degree programs in five new disciplines — addiction studies, health-care administration, health science, medical laboratory science and social work — to complement its existing majors in health-related fields. In addition, two new tracks were recently approved as part of the college’s master of science in nursing program — nursing leadership and nursing education — to augment its existing clinical nurse leader track.

These new programs, as well as an associate’s degree program in health sciences and a bachelor’s degree completion program in respiratory therapy, were specifically designed to further the education of current Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system employees, and were made possible as part of a $3.25 million partnership enhancement with the state’s largest health system announced earlier this year. The addition of these new programs also strives to address the growing shortage of qualified healthcare professionals both within Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system and across the nation.

“Colby-Sawyer is committed to a high quality nursing program and the numbers speak for themselves,” Colby-Sawyer President Susan D. Stuebner said. “Whether being ranked number one in the state for undergraduate nursing, or our 99 percent pass rate on the NCLEX-RN professional certification exam, our students benefit from the powerful combination of committed faculty at the college and clinical experiences at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. These elements make our program highly attractive to prospective and current students wanting to enter a career that is in dire need in New Hampshire and beyond.”

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