Nursing degree opens doors for Colorado Mountain College grads |

Nursing degree opens doors for Colorado Mountain College grads

Robert Allen
Summit County, CO Colorado
Mark Fox/Summit DailyTim Putz will be part of the first graduating class for the Colorado Mountain College nursing program. Graduation will take place May 1.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado “-Tim Putz wasn’t sure what career he wanted to pursue until he began learning basic first aid at the Colorado Mountain College Summit Campus. He’s now within reach of becoming a registered nurse.

An event in the early 90s ” when a friend was seriously injured in a backcountry avalanche ” spurred his desire to know first aid.

“I didn’t really have the tools to help,” he said.

Putz said he found the work interesting, gained qualification as an emergency medical technician and continued into the school’s nursing program when it started two years ago.

“There was a door standing in front of me. I needed to take the first-aid course, and at that point the doors just kept opening,” Putz, 38, said. “There’s just so many places to go.”

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He’s slated as the student emcee for the Colorado Mountain College commencement ceremony May 1, where he expects to receive an associate in applied science degree in nursing.

His is to be the campus’s first graduating nursing class, with 19 graduates.

Though Putz may be older than the average college student, people of a variety of ages are pursuing careers in the health industry.

Colorado Mountain College nursing program director Margaret Banning said several applicants “decide late to finally pursue a dream.

“We tend to have older students,” she said.

Putz said that in the next few months he can do the “paperwork shuffle” and pass the nursing exam to become a registered nurse.

He’s currently a critical care technician at the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center emergency room.

But there seems to be a consensus for nursing grads to “work in a busy hospital with the sickest people you can find for the base of skills,” so he’ll probably work in the Denver area after becoming a registered nurse, he said.

Putz said he’ll probably hone his skills for a year or more, but that opportunities ultimately range from operating rooms to mental health facilities to working with children, teens and adults.

“The field is just immense,” he said.

He said he enjoys the human interaction.

“Most careers deal with human beings; in this line of work, you never know who will walk through the door. No two days are ever the same,” he said. “The satisfaction you can get out of helping someone ” it gives you a really good feeling.”

Putz said he started the Colorado Mountain College classes six years ago, but that someone certain they want to be a nurse could get through the process in three years.

“When I took the first-aid classes, I had no idea,” he said.

He’s been with Summit Medical Center for about three and a half years, and said the experience has been great.

The nursing programs at Colorado Mountain College are competitive, with about 85 to 100 applicants applying for 36 slots, Banning said.

“At many schools in the state, it’s a waiting list,” she said. “One nice thing about a competitive program is you do attract (competitive students).”

The Spring Valley Campus in Glenwood Springs has 24 slots for next year’s program, but the Summit Campus has reduced slots from 18 to 12.

Banning said the reduction was made because of a lack of available clinical placements at nearby healthcare facilities.

“We really strive to make sure (we get) top-notch clinical placements,” she said, adding that the program is “having trouble getting specialties.”

This spring, Colorado Mountain College began offering a medical assistant program.

Colorado Mountain College spokeswoman Debra Crawford said the program has had “good response.”

“They don’t have the same level of technical training as a nurse would,” she said, adding that the medical assistants draw blood and do injections. “There’s definitely a need for them.”

Putz said he would recommend Colorado Mountain College’s health-related programs to “anyone interested in the healthcare field.”

“They’re tools to take anywhere,” he said. “It’s a great place to start ” take a class, see where it takes you.”

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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