DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Sinclair College has announced it will help meet the critical need for healthcare workers by expanding its nursing program.

The program currently has 144 students each year, but by the spring of 2022, Sinclair said it expects to have room for 162 students each year.

Sinclair Nursing Dept. interim Chair Dr. Annie Yarnall said this expansion will educate and train new nurses for the frontlines of the pandemic.

“You’re seeing with the National Guard called in how bare bones the hospitals are right now,” Yarnall said. “For us to get those students ready and get them prepared to enter the workforce is critical.”

According to Sinclair College, there are approximately 14,000 nurses in the Dayton region, but over 1,000 more are needed each year.

“We’ve seen a lot of collaboration between our clinical partners and the school to make sure we’re producing what they need and that they have at the end of our program the nurses they need to fill those slots there,” Yarnall said.

Sinclair is helping to meet this need. According to the school, 728 students have graduated from Sinclair College with Associate of Applied Science Degrees in Nursing. Many of these students are even now working in the medical field during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need for nurses is significant and Sinclair’s contribution to the pipeline cannot be underestimated,” Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said. “We view training healthcare workers as a collaborative activity that requires all of our region’s education partners.”

Although healthcare workers are feeling the stress and strain caused by COVID-19, Yarnall said the rewards of nursing outweigh its current challenges.

“Nothing is more fulfilling than to be able to meet that challenge and take care of those patients that need us desperately,” Yarnall said.