Berkshire Community College has put its nursing program on hold, as it continues to struggle through its accreditation process.
Last year, the accreditation agencies that oversee BCC's nursing program issued a warning, saying the college's record keeping and admissions criteria were unclear.
This week, the college announced it will take the next year to work on the accreditation standards, and no students will be admitted until fall 2020.
“This is probably not the news they want to hear, and we empathize with them,” said Christina Wynn, dean of enrollment at Berkshire Community College.
“It’s really hard, because this is the only program around for a lot of students who would go into nursing," said Samantha Boyle, who works in Pittsfield High School’s counseling center. She said the high school often sends students to the BCC nursing program, though she didn't know of any who had been planning to go there next year.
Boyle said the school will likely suggest students consider the nursing program at Hudson Valley Community College in New York, or try a health science degree instead.
Meanwhile, one major health care employer is making plans to accommodate BCC’s pause in enrollment.
Berkshire Health Systems usually hires 75 nurses every year — half of them from BCC, according to spokesperson Mike Leary.
Leary said Berkshire Health has been aware of the college's problems, and supports its decision to take a break.
“That being said, the national nursing shortage has been impacting every hospital in the U.S.,” Leary said. “As a result, we have, for the past several years, been engaged in a pretty extensive recruiting program for nurses. It does include Berkshire Community College, but it also includes numerous other regional institutions with nursing programs."
Leary said the BCC pause won't affect the health system's staffing immediately, since they can still hire from this year's class. He said Berkshire Health is confident BCC's nursing program will be back next year.