Nursing Shortages Inspire Big Investment in Rend Lake Nursing Program

INA (WSIL) – The nursing shortage is not going away. According to the executive director of the Illinois Nurses Foundation, by 2025 the state will be short 15,000 registered nurses.

According to Illinois Nurses Foundation’s executive director, Illinois not only has a nursing shortage, but there’s also a secondary problem: the average age of nurses in the state is around 55 years old, and they’re retiring quicker than they graduate. Rend Lake College’s nursing program is attempting to offset those numbers 60 students at a time.

“We do have an option to take an LPN option after their first year of nursing, and hospitals are employing LPNs now to offset the nursing shortage, and so there’s a higher demand for LPNs, as well as medical assistants, and we have a medical assisting program as well,” explained Associate Professor of Nursing at Rend Lake College, Sarah Hopfinger.

Hopfinger said the college’s bridge option works for those who’ve already had some schooling.

“We also have the ability with our LPNs to, if they already have their LPN license, they can take a bridge class and bridge back into our second year and get their RN,” Hopfinger said of the program.

She said, not only is their program hands on, but they’re also making big investments in learning equipment for their students. A perfect example, their new doll, Anne. She’s state of the art equipment for nursing students, an incredibly realistic tool, to the tune of about $40,000 dollars, that makes learning fun and scenarios more life-like.

“I just honestly think it’s a great experience to get to practice our head-to-toe assessment or get to feel pulses or take manual blood pressure,” said second year nursing student from Sesser, Destiny Boswell. “Just something you might not be as comfortable with at clinical, where you have an actual person, I feel like this gives us a lot of opportunity to practice our skills and gain more confidence in them as we go on.”

And, Hopfinger said, those elements equal success for their students.

“That has allowed us to achieve a higher than national average pass rate for the nursing program.”

Enrollment for the nursing program runs until March 31st. You can get details on the program, applications and testing on their website:

Rend Lake is also working on site development with engineers and architects for a new, multi-million-dollar Allied Health Training Center at the Ina Campus.