COLUMBUS, Neb. -- Nebraska will be lacking about 5,400 nurses in 2025, according to official estimates. It's a growing problem that's hitting patients and hospitals all over. That's why one community in Nebraska is addressing the nursing shortage by introducing the Health Science Pathway. 

“Well, we kind of started with the health sciences, getting people involved, and having the students understand what healthcare looked like,” nurse and program developer Dorothy Bybee said.

Health Science Pathway is expanding this year by welcoming Lakeview High School into the program this fall, along with the Columbus High School students, to teach students about these different careers in healthcare. 

“She saw my stethoscope, and she said ‘that is the most beautiful necklace I’ve ever seen,’” Bybee said. “And I still kind of choke up because I thought, yes, this is most beautiful necklace I could have on.”

Bybee said she hopes students learn how meaningful the career is, while they are trained in CPR, given an opportunity to get a CNA license and explore facilities. The classes explore various facets of health care, including phlebotomy, radiology, pharmacy, nursing, respiratory therapy, housekeeping, facilities, etc.

This year's class has 60 students participating, with around 10 to 15 expected to receive a CNA. 

“Moving into this role, seeing how these students, this first group we had in the spring semester here this year just excelled with the program," Health Science Pathways instructor Wendy Kallhoff said. "It was like, ‘Yeah, this is good. We need this in the community.’"

The principal of Columbus High School, Dave Hiebner said the program's design started nearly five years ago. 

“We were really looking forward to the program,” Hiebner said. “It’ll have some growing pains as time goes on, but we have got the right people and the right stuff in the program. Really looking forward to seeing it grow.”