Administrator takes on nurse shortage |

Administrator takes on nurse shortage

Gregory Crofton
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Dressed in traditional white uniforms for Nurses Week are Barton Memorial Hospital nurses Jean Williams, left, and Susan Altman.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor says more than a million new nurses will be needed by 2010.

Kathy Cocking, director of hospital operations and chief nurse at Barton Memorial Hospital, is not sitting idle waiting to run short on staff.

Cocking, in conjunction with Lake Tahoe Community College, has worked on weekends for the last two years to get an online associate degree nursing program off the ground. It is the first program of its kind in the state.

The degrees will be issued through the Rocklin campus of Sierra College, which is in the suburbs of Sacramento.

“It’s working great,” Cocking said. “In the past, nurses had to commute to Carson City and Reno to the Western Nevada Community College program. Our nursing students are not having to do that.”

There are 10 spots available in the program, which will again open to students in August 2006. The nine students who enrolled this year are on track to earn their degrees by December 2006.

Lectures and course work are available on any computer with access to the Internet. Exams are proctored and conducted at LTCC.

Cocking said nurses make up two-thirds of Barton’s staff. Fran Lucero, a registered nurse for 14 years, says the job never gets boring.

“I like spending time with my patients,” Lucero said. “Communication is important. They need to let us know how they feel so we can know how to help them.”

Lucero’s mother and sister are nurses. Same goes for Jean Williams, a registered nurse for 33 years, 31 of which have been spent at Barton.

“You learn to deal with so many different kinds of people,” Williams said. “There is no such thing as good patient or a bad patient. Everyone is sick and they are all themselves. You need to take them as they come.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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