‘One student at a time’

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Ask Susan Moreland what she thinks about the future of health care careers and she has a ready reply.

“It’s a hot field,” she said. “Birth and death. It’s never going to go away. I highly recommend going into health care.”

CMC’s school deans

Susan Moreland

Susan Moreland is the new dean of the School of Nursing, Health Science and Public Safety at Colorado Mountain College.

Based in Glenwood Springs, Moreland now oversees the health care and public safety programs at all of CMC’s campuses and online.

“The structure is very strategic,” Moreland said. “The school deans are able to support our campuses, our campus deans and our assistant deans of instruction. It creates an opportunity to share best practices, focus on continuous improvement and offer consistently high-quality academic experiences at campus locations with similar program offerings.”

Working with Moreland as associate dean of nursing is Betty Damask-Bembenek, Ed.D., who, in addition to a doctorate in education, has associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing, plus a master’s in nursing management. Damask-Bembenek has been a leader in nursing education at CMC since 2009. As the chief nursing administrator, she will partner with Moreland to provide oversight of the nursing programs college-wide.

Serving students

Among Moreland’s priorities is making health care education available to more students.

“We have tons of qualified people we’re turning away,” she said, noting that only a finite number of spots are available for each class of nurses. CMC Steamboat Springs will be offering an associate degree in nursing on campus starting January 2020, as well as an online bachelor’s in nursing. Steamboat will join two other CMC campuses, at Breckenridge and Spring Valley, which offer both nursing degrees, allowing the college to serve more students.

Moreland wants to give more high school students opportunities to complete their health care prerequisites, and be able to test whether a health care career is right for them.

“High school is a perfect time to see if you really are suited for medical office work, rather than, say, be a phlebotomist dealing with blood. We want them to find that out,” she said.

Moreland also wants prospective and current students to feel welcome to come to CMC to talk with administrators and faculty about health care career options. She said she is also interested in becoming involved and supporting veterans’ groups that meet at several CMC campuses.

Back in Colorado

Moreland’s mother is Japanese and her father served in the United States military. She came to America with her family when she was 14. She says she understands having to learn English as a second language. “I was stigmatized,” she said, giving her empathy for others having to live with a foot in two cultures.

Twenty years as a senior military officer with the U.S. Air Force and subsequent health care and higher education positions landed her in several states during her career, including Texas, California, Virginia and Maryland. She was based in Colorado Springs for several years, teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Moreland and her family have now relocated from their most recent home in Austin, Texas, and are back in Colorado. “I want to be part of this team,” she said, “supporting one student at a time.”