COLORADO SPRINGS — As we continue to rebound during the COVID-19 pandemic, local colleges seeing a huge increase in students pursuing nursing degrees.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs reporting the largest numbers they've had in five years. Enrollment in their Bachelor of Science in Nursing program increasing by 24 percent and their accelerated program by 17 percent.
Since Nita Duncan was eight-years-old, she always knew wanted to be in the medical field. Her passion for medicine prompting her to join the UCCS Accelerated Nursing Program.
"There hasn't been much in-person in regards to lectures, but we've been able to be in clinicals in the hospital and still able to have our labs," said Duncan.
Coronavirus becoming a big motivator for her.
"Knowing the ailments that were affecting my friends and family, I just wanted to know more about it and how I can help," said Duncan.
Jared Varner with UCCS says despite enrollment overall being down, they've seen growth in both nursing and education.
"I think the spike in numbers is related to the pandemic. A lot of people are seeing this as a way to contribute, to help, and being apart of the solution," said Verner.
Verner says they already have an 11 percent increase in nursing school applications for next year. He says the university has been working to get nursing students on the frontline.
"We have a lot of different options that are tailored to individual needs. We also have a program with UCHealth that allows some of their nurses to get their BSN as well," said Verner.
Duncan taking advantage of the accelerated program since she already has one degree. She'll be graduating in August and jumping right on the frontline.
"I'm definitely thirsty to get out there and start working. Be in the ER and the OR," said Duncan.
With so much controversy surrounding masks and the vaccine, Duncan says she wants to use what she's learning to educate others about the best ways to stay safe.