TWIN FALLS — Nightingale College, a Utah-based online college with 56 students in the Magic Valley, will soon have to leave the county offices and find a new classroom.
Nightingale is a nursing school, offering associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Much of the curriculum is online, but there’s also an on-the-ground portion with local faculty. The school, which was founded in 2010, primarily operates in rural areas in the West but has programs in states from coast to coast.
Nightingale College Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development Jonathan Tanner met with county commissioners Tuesday in an effort to address the classroom issue.
At the moment, Nightingale, which came to the Magic Valley in 2016, uses physical space in the County West building to provide hands-on nursing instruction. With the county planning to move juvenile detention and a handful of other services to County West, there isn’t going to space for that training anymore. That means Nightingale probably has to leave within six months or a year.
Tanner said he expects the school will be able to find donated space elsewhere in Twin Falls, but in the unlikely event that doesn’t happen, the school’s 56 Magic Valley students would have to commute to Boise or Pocatello to finish their degrees.
Even if County West wasn’t getting crowded, it’s likely Nightingale would have to find a different place for nursing students to practice.
That’s because, as an online school, Nightingale has to abide by some regulations that don’t apply to other colleges. The school can’t own or rent classroom space, according to Tanner. Space has to be donated.
County Commissioners Don Hall, Jack Johnson and Brent Reinke all noted that Nightingale provides a valuable service, offering nursing degrees in the Magic Valley in the midst of a nationwide nursing shortage.
Tanner said that since coming to Twin Falls, 79 Magic Valley Nightingale students — the college calls them “learners” — have received associates degrees, and two have earned bachelor’s degrees. It takes at least 32 months to get a bachelor’s in nursing from Nightingale, and 20 months for an associates. Some Nightingale graduates now work at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.
Commission Chairman Don Hall said he understands how important it is to increase the number of nurses here. But he also explained that Idaho law prevents counties from donating space to groups that don’t specifically benefit seniors or veterans. Nightingale has been relying on space in County West that is leased by BRP Health Management.
BRP’s lease is up in June, and it’s not going to be renewed. According to Tanner, BRP negotiated that lease without telling Nightingale.
The county’s relationship with BRP hasn’t been smooth. The company owes the county money — and has been making payments — but also isn’t responding to the county’s calls or emails.
“We don’t have contact with anybody really who’s downstairs,” Hall said. “We don’t know who they are or when they come and go.”
Tanner said that Nightingale should be able to find another business willing to donate classroom space, and he emphasized that the Magic Valley needs more nurses.
“We bring a crazy amount of value having nursing graduates,” he said. “It improves health.”
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