Cheri has been a strong advocate for community colleges since receiving her associate degree in nursing from Shoreline Community College in 1988. She started at SCC 14 years ago as a nursing instructor, but moved into her current role as Associate Dean of Nursing over four years ago. Now her work focuses on ensuring that the nursing students and faculty’s needs are met.
“A big part of my role is ensuring that the nursing program remains compliant and accredited with the Washington State Nursing Commission and the national nursing accreditation body in six areas: Mission, Faculty, Students, Curriculum, Resources, and Outcomes,” Cheri explained.
With such important tasks in front of her, Cheri said that what keeps her motivated is believing in the SCC mission and core themes. In addition, she’s an advocate for the idea that the associate of nursing degree is a vital part in meeting the needs of our community, as well as the nursing shortage our country is currently facing. As she puts it, “This degree allows students to complete their nursing degree in an expedited manner at a less expensive cost, with high-quality training.”
Graduates can start practicing as soon as they pass their RN (Registered Nurse) national exam, and they can go back to school to complete a BSN (Bachelor's of Science in Nursing) or RN later.
Cheri is also motivated by her connection to her coworkers.
“With a highly motivated and positive group of people to work with, my job is always rewarding and fulfilling,” Cheri said.
The faculty and staff support each other, and their goal is to have one of the best nursing programs in Washington. That means training students to be the best nurses possible.
That work is paying off. Approximately 85% to 90% of SCC’s nursing graduates stay in Spokane after graduation and are hired by Spokane health care facilities. As an accreditation evaluator for nursing schools, Cheri has seen other associate degree nursing programs struggle to acquire clinical sites, but that has never been an issue for SCC.
“The nursing clinical facilities value our students and value that SCC is graduating quality and safe nurses who will stay in our community and work at their facilities,” Cheri explained.
This is the strength of CCS’s work: we focus on educating and training students to meet the needs of the community. Not only will SCC’s nurses go on to join our local community’s workforce and fill the nursing shortage across the U.S., but nurses at SCC’s program are encouraged to obtain their master’s in nursing so that they can join leadership positions later. Those positions are where they can make important decisions to support the community. And sometimes that community is the next generation of nurses, since many graduates come back to SCC to teach.
In other words, for our nursing students, “the sky is the limit” after graduating. According to Cheri, “They can give back to the community after they graduate with a specialized skill, such as nursing, and they can go on to get their four-year degree or higher and become community leaders, own their own business, or come back to the community college and teach our next generation of leaders.”
That’s the work we do at CCS every day. Our faculty and staff work to support our students so that they can achieve their dreams and have a positive impact on our larger community. Together, we’re helping to build a better future.