Colby-Sawyer College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) announced a significant enhancement of their longstanding academic relationship aimed at directly addressing the critical issue of the growing shortage of qualified health care professionals throughout the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system, in New Hampshire and Vermont, and across the nation.

As part of the broadening of their collaboration, Dartmouth-Hitchcock will make a multi-year strategic investment of up to $3,250,000, beginning with an initial installment of $750,000. The agreement provides the college with the financial resources necessary to implement a variety of new health science programs announced in 2019, and grow the enrollment in the college’s nursing program. Intended to directly respond to current and anticipated workforce needs, the agreement includes milestones which the college will need to meet for additional investments from D-H. The programs, specifically developed with input from D-H, will train skilled candidates to help D-H address the more than 1,000 job vacancies within the state’s largest, and only academic, health system. This partnership also provides the existing D-H workforce access to high-quality educational programs locally.

According to the New Hampshire Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau, health care is the second largest component of the state’s economy, and is projected to account for 21% of all job growth between now and 2026. Currently, there are more than 6,500 unfilled health care jobs in the state — the most of any industry — and with 30% of workers in the field expected to retire within the next 10 years, those vacancies will likely continue to rise. The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system is New Hampshire’s largest private employer, with more than 13,000 employees.

Beginning in fall, 2020, Colby-Sawyer will offer bachelor’s degree programs in five new disciplines — addiction studies, healthcare administration, health science, medical laboratory science, and social work — to complement its existing majors in health-related fields. Additionally, the college is in the process of developing an associate degree program in health sciences designed to further the education of current D-HH employees. Two new tracks are also in the works for the college’s Master of Science in Nursing program — nursing leadership and nursing education — to augment its existing clinical nurse leader track.

“I am very grateful to Dartmouth-Hitchcock for their investment and belief in our mission, as well as their willingness to help us enhance it further,” said Colby-Sawyer President Susan D. Stuebner. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the health system on ways to alleviate specific workforce needs, while offering meaningful academic programs to our students that fit our mission as an institution.”

The relationship between Colby-Sawyer and D-H dates back to 1981, when the college first began preparing nurses at the Bachelor of Science level. Since then, Colby-Sawyer students have benefited from nursing clinical placements, internships, and various other experiential learning opportunities within D-HH.

“This investment allows us to strategically leverage our long-standing academic relationship with Colby-Sawyer as we continue to develop ways to best serve our patients,” said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. “The demand for health care providers — at all levels of practice — continues to grow, and Colby-Sawyer remains a key partner in our efforts to meet that demand.”

Colby-Sawyer’s undergraduate nursing program is ranked first in New Hampshire by RegisteredNursing.org, with more than 80% of nursing graduates going on to accept positions with the D-H system. The college’s nursing graduates consistently surpass the national pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination, with a four-year average pass rate of 99.24% — 96.97% of students passed the exam on their first attempt in 2019.

Colby-Sawyer’s Class of 2019 included 32 nursing undergraduates, of which 100% have reported accepting positions within six months of graduation. The college hopes to increase the number of nursing graduates to between 100 and 125 by 2027. As part of its enhanced partnership with D-H, Colby-Sawyer has also added a bachelor’s degree completion program in respiratory therapy, and plans to increase enrollment in its Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor’s of Science degree program. Both programs are designed to further the education of working nurses through flexible online courses.

“Colby-Sawyer is extremely excited to pursue this enhanced partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and we look forward to responding collectively to health care needs in our region and beyond as they arise,” Stuebner said. “Colby-Sawyer students graduating in the health sciences will have the immediate opportunity to gain meaningful employment upon completion of their program. Our emphasis on internships, clinical placements, and capstone projects will ensure that our students have both theoretical and practical experience upon which they can draw as they compete in the workforce.”

About Colby-Sawyer College

U.S. News & World Report recognized Colby-Sawyer as a Best Regional College in its category - North (#8), Best Value College (#4), and Best Undergraduate Teaching (#4) in its 2020 Best Colleges edition. Founded in 1837 in the heart of the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire, Colby-Sawyer is a comprehensive college with an emphasis on the liberal arts and sciences, a focus on professional preparation and a commitment to individualized experiences. Students choose from a variety of innovative majors in the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business & Social Sciences, and the School of Nursing & Health Sciences. Colby-Sawyer’s transformative teaching and learning community, which includes an enhanced partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock, promotes students’ academic, intellectual and personal growth. Graduate outcome data indicates that 99% of 2018 graduates are employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. Learn more at colby-sawyer.edu.

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health

DARTMOUTH-HITCHCOCK HEALTH (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across Northern New England. D-H provides access to more than 2,400 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named in 2019 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 13 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health also includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation; the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; affiliated member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-H system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.

Photo: Colby-Sawyer College President Susan D. Stuebner (left) and Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO and President Joanne M. Conroy stand for a photo at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.