CGCC nursing program joins statewide consortium

More than a million nurses will be needed in the United States within four years, and beginning this fall Columbia Gorge Community College marks a new milestone in its longstanding mission of preparing nurses to join this fast-growing field.

Starting this fall, students enrolled in the CGCC nursing program will participate in a uniform, statewide set of admissions standards, prerequisites and curriculum adopted through the Oregon Consortium of Nursing Education (OCNE).

The standard curriculum fosters seamless transition to a four-year nursing degree. CGCC awards a two-year associate degree in nursing, and graduates already enjoyed placement in the four-year program at Linfield College through an existing agreement between Linfield and CGCC. In adopting OCNE standards and curriculum, CGCC opens an additional path to the four-year degree through its articulation agreement with Oregon Health Sciences University. CGCC officially began the journey by signing an intergovernmental agreement with OCNE in August 2016. It now joins ten other community colleges in Oregon and six OHSU campuses in using the standard curriculum.

Students completing the nursing curriculum at CGCC are awarded an associate of applied science in nursing and may apply to take the national licensure exam (NCLEX-RN) to become a Registered Nurse. Program graduates have a seamless transition to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at OHSU.

CGCC started its nursing program in 2001 at the request of area hospitals, which confronted a serious nursing shortage in the local region. Since then, 281 students have graduated from the local program, including 26 in 2017 (CGCC’s largest nursing class since program inception). A total of 345 students have completed the first year of the program to receive their Practical Nursing certificates and qualify as Licensed Practical Nurses. There were 96 applicants this year, of whom 24 will be admitted in Fall 2018.

Meanwhile, the national nursing shortage is still acute. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retirements and demand for healthcare from the aging Baby Boomer population is driving 16 percent growth in Registered Nursing employment from 2014 to 2024. The National League of Nursing projects a shortage of 1.13 million new Registered Nurses by 2022.

CGCC provides strong support for its students, with the Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation awarding $48,501 in scholarship in 2017-18 and clinical affiliations with 24 local agencies, offering practical experience for students in addition to the college’s Rural Clinical Simulation Center. Here they are assigned “patients” to care for and can practice their nursing skills in a safe environment.

The nursing program’s mission is to provide highly-qualified workers to safely deliver healthcare in the 21st century. For information, visit