KSUT Tribal Radio | By Sarah Flower

"How many future nurses do we have in the room?" That's president of Fort Lewis College, Tom Stritikus honoring the very first class of the CU Nursing Fort Lewis College Collaborative.

Yesterday, a celebration for the revamping of Skyhawk hall. The $2.9 million state of the art nursing training facility is expected to be. Ready by June of 2025. Maggie La Rose is the director of nursing at Fort Lewis College. She says this collaboration between FLC and. The University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus is aimed at diversifying nurses in the healthcare field. "Our goal is increasing representation across the board, right? So for nursing, it really isn't a very diverse workforce, and so really research after research has proved that we are a really trusted profession and it's important for that trust for us to have diversity, It improves patient outcomes and so that diversity is a lot of different things, but essentially trying to match our nurses to what the overall population is so that we can better serve our patients."

The 5000 square foot renovation will include three different teaching environments, a homelike setting, a clinical setting, and a simulation lab with three high definition mannequins. This past fall, FLC welcomed the first cohort of 24 potential nurses. Students who complete their four year degree on the Fort Lewis College campus will then receive their final degree from CU. La Rose says degrees will be jointly branded.

Referencing the rural and Indigenous health program From Fort Lewis College. Megan Grush is a first year student. At FLC and is in the inaugural cohort program. Grush is a member of the Tlingit Tribe from the Pacific Northwest. She's excited to lead the way for other students to follow. "The older siblings of this program, we're the guinea pigs, Things are getting tested out on us and it's a good way to learn what's going to work and what isn't going to work these first years, so that those that come after us can succeed more based off of what we were able to figure out, what was not working." This collaboration has been over ten years.

In the making, and both institutions say they are committed to serving underrepresented and Indigenous students. In 2018, the US Government Accountability Office. Studied employment data from Indian Health Services showing that there are not enough healthcare providers in the IHS service area to provide quality and timely health care to Indigenous people. The first graduating class for this program will be in 2028.

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