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NHTI to expand nursing program, alleviate nursing shortage


A new building planned for New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord would expand the college’s in-demand nursing program and help alleviate the state’s nursing shortage, college officials say.

The college proposes a $7 million, health education center to house its nursing program. A new building would allow the college to expand its two-year registered nursing program from 200 to 300 students and accept 50 of the 150 applicants turned away each year.

“We’ve basically been turning away students who want to get in because of a lack of physical capacity,” said Alan Blake, the college’s development director.

Half of the new slots would go the registered nursing program. The rest would be distributed among a program for licensed practical nurses to become registered nurses and another to recertify lapsed RNs.

There is no official tally of how many nurses work in New Hampshire, however the state Department of Employment Security has estimated the state will need 672 new RNs each year until 2014. NHTI, the state’s largest nursing school, graduates less than half that number annually.

Sue Fetzer, president of the New Hampshire Nurses’ Association, estimated New Hampshire has 8 to 10 percent fewer nurse than it needs, with critical shortages in emergency rooms and long-term care. There’s also a shortage of nursing instructors, which calls for a master’s degree or higher. Many nurses don’t pursue the six years of education needed to become an instructor because they can be hired to work after two years of school.

That shortage in instructors creates shortages everywhere, said Margaret Walker, director of the New Hampshire Nursing Board.

“It continually perpetuates itself,” she said.

The only area with not shortage is nursing applicants. This year, 273 people applied for 100 places in NHTI’s freshman nursing class, said Blake, the development director.

The college is in the home stretch of the fundraising stage for the building, which would be built on the soccer field of the Concord campus. About 600 donors have given $2.78 million so far. The nursing center will be named after the Grappone family, which owns a large car dealership in Concord, and donated $1 million. The state is contributing $4 million.

Information from: Concord Monitor,

–Associated Press

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