We work hard for the money

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Cindylou Kibbe poses in a room in the intensive care unit of Carson Tahoe Hospital on Friday. Kibbe just graduated from Western Nevada Community College with a degree in nursing.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Cindylou Kibbe poses in a room in the intensive care unit of Carson Tahoe Hospital on Friday. Kibbe just graduated from Western Nevada Community College with a degree in nursing.

Cindylou Kibbe's dream job is to work with patients and families in trauma.

As a new graduate from Western Nevada Community College with an associate's degree in nursing, Kibbe has reached her goal.

She was recently hired to work in Carson-Tahoe Hospital's intensive- care unit. Kibbe is a mother of three boys, a grandmother and the survivor of a hit-and-run-accident.

"That's the reason I decided to go into nursing," she said. "Because of the great care I received at (University of California,) San Francisco."

She was struck by an automobile in 1989 and had 10 facial reconstructive surgeries in 10 years. She moved with her husband to Carson City in 2001.

Kibbe started at the hospital as a unit clerk about four years ago. Now that she's about to reach her goal of becoming an RN, the 44-year-old Carson City woman wants to help out other students. Kibbe founded the WNCC Nursing Program Alumni Association. Its goals are to start scholarships for new nurses and to form a mentoring program.

A hospital spokeswoman said Carson-Tahoe recently upgraded its starting salary for nurses, but she couldn't give any numbers, only saying that it's "very competitive." But with a nationwide nursing shortage, hospital officials know that it takes more than salary to fill the ranks.

"We're continually looking at incentives and coming up with new ways to attract nurses, and also working on ways to retain good qualified nurses," said Annette Patellos, director of critical care and cardiac services.

The graduating class of 2005 is entering a job field that is paying more than previous years, according to a new salary report published by the National Association of College and Employers.

According to the salary report engineers and business majors stand out, with average salary increases across the board.

Accounting graduates posted a 3.9 percent increase in their average starting salary offer since last spring, raising it to $43,809. Graduates with business administration/management degrees saw their average jump 3.2 percent, boosting it to $39,448, according to the salary report.

Chemical engineering graduates saw a healthy increase of 4.3 percent, raising their average offer to $54,256. Civil engineering graduates saw a similar increase of 4 percent to their average offer, bringing it to $43,462.

The numbers require state agencies to increase efforts and incentives to hire young people streaming out of universities toward better-paying, private-sector jobs.

Rob Easton, Nevada Department of Transportation personnel officer, said a new UNR civil engineering graduate will start with $41,000 a year, three weeks of annual leave and three weeks of sick leave.

To get good people in, he starts with the internships.

"I go to universities and talk about job opportunities for the summer," he said. "I bring in engineers from different disciplines, and they talk to the students about what kind of internship is available in each of those disciplines."

He recruits 45 students from the University of Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas for internships across the state. A majority of the students come from UNR because of its strong civil engineering program. The student interns make about $15 an hour. NDOT also has four positions for public service interns, working in fields such as accounting, right-of-way or environmental sciences. Those interns make about $13.90 an hour.

"For the students who've just graduated, we have a rotational engineering program," Easton said. "What they do is work in various divisions within NDOT over the course of 18 months. They decide which area of civil engineering they want to specialize in."

Jacob Ludel, Jessen Mortensen, Sajid Sulahria and Eric Yount are all NDOT employees and recent UNR graduates. All of them were attracted to the public sector because of the good benefits, great retirement packages and the promise of 40-hour work weeks.

Ludel and Mortensen were interns that transitioned into full-time employment. Both Sulahria and Yount had jobs in a private consulting firm in Reno before moving into the public sector. Yount, a civil engineer working in the hydraulics department, said when he first made the move his salary decreases, but there were other perks that made up for it.

"You just have to look at the benefits and retirement, they can't really compare to the private sector," he said.

Sulahria, a 1999 UNR graduate in civil engineering, said he may have had a higher salary at one time, but that came with a more stressful lifestyle.

"I didn't want to work 50 to 60 hours a week," he said. "And also I traveled a lot. I was on the go all the time."

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

Top wages

The average entry level wage for nurses in 2004 was $21.81 an hour, or $45,371 annually, according to a healthcare report released in April 2005.

"This has probably increased $2 or $3 an hour over the past year," said Nancy Bridges, a registered nurse and nurse executive for the Nevada Hospital Association.


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