Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig is playing host to the largest crop of nursing students seen in the program's three years.
Forty-four students are enrolled in the college's licensed practical and registered nursing programs.
Last year, officials were proud to grow the program to 36.
The additional slots got Rebecca Runyan off the waiting list she'd been on for a year.
Working toward her LPN is stressful, she said, but fulfilling.
She spends her weekends reading medical texts, preparing for the week ahead. "It's interesting," she said. "I like it because it's something I want to learn. A lot of people are losing sleep over it, but I'm not."
Unlike many students who have families and jobs, Runyan is able to devote her full attention to her studies.
The 2003 Moffat County High School graduate took advantage of the dual enrollment program, which allows students to take classes for both high school and college credit.
Doing so helped get some of the nursing program prerequisites, including anatomy and physiology and medical terminology, out of the way.
She earned her certificate as a Certified Nurse Aid when she was 17, and then she waited.
Classes started at the end of August.
"I really do like it," she said.
Students attend school four days a week, one of which is dedicated to labs. They'll begin clinicals - practical experience in a real health care environment - in October. "That will be awesome," she said. "I like the hand's on stuff."
Becoming a registered nurse requires a two year commitment. Students must first spend three semesters earning their Practical Nursing Licenses. The third six-week semester is spent mostly in a clinical setting.
Passing a state-administered test earns the student a certificate in practical nursing and allows them to enter the R.N. program - two semesters that culminate in clinical experiences at larger hospitals in Denver or Grand Junction.
Being committed is important for someone who will pay more than $12,000 to become an R.N. through the CNCC program. Moffat County residents qualify for tuition assistance and all can apply for financial aid or scholarships.
There is a huge need for nurses - Colorado's nursing shortage is predicted to exceed 30 percent by 2020 - one thing that prompted the creation of the program. Community desire was also a factor.
Program Director Marilyn Bouldin was one of many on the ground floor of bringing the program to Craig and designing it to fit the community's needs. "People are starting to realize it's a very good profession," Bouldin said. "It's rewarding and financially viable. There are lots of long-term residents enrolling who always wanted to go to nursing school, but couldn't."
The program has grown each year. There continues to be a waiting list of about 30. Anyone interested in enrolling can call Bouldin at (970) 824-1119 .