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Olympic College Partners with Kitsap County Commissioners and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health to Address Health Care Workforce Shortages in the Region

Dec. 12, 2023

Partnership to add capacity for more than 600 students annually to health sciences programs over the next four years

Olympic College is excited to announce a partnership with the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) on the first phase of building a new regional health sciences campus at its Poulsbo location. 

With generous contributions of $6 million of American Recovery Plan Act funding from Kitsap County Commissioners and $2.5 million from VMFH, the first phase will include the launch of new health science programs to fill critical health care roles in the region. The programs include dental assisting, dental hygiene, emergency medical technician, paramedic, practical nursing for Navy Corpsman, phlebotomy, radiology technician, respiratory technician, surgical technician and ultrasound technician. 

The first phase, which is slated to take about two years to complete, will create opportunities for more than 80 new students each year. 

The expansion in Poulsbo will complement Olympic College’s robust health sciences program at its Bremerton campus, which currently accepts more than 300 students each year in its nursing, medical assisting and physical therapy programs. 

“We could not be more grateful to our partners, the Kitsap County Commissioners and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, for their support of this desperately needed expansion of health care opportunities,” Olympic College President, Marty Cavalluzzi, said. “This is just the start of a two-phased project that will significantly increase the number of highly skilled workers joining the workforce each year.”

This partnership is launching as hospitals nationally and locally – including VMFH’s St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Wash. – are managing significant health care staffing challenges. For instance, nationally, the need for radiology technicians is expected to grow six percent in the next decade – faster than the average for health care occupations. Locally in Kitsap County, there is a need for 130 radiology technicians; however, annually, there are fewer than 100 radiology technician student spots available in all of western Washington. 

“We are very proud to support Olympic College and their work to educate the next generation of health care professionals in Kitsap,” said Ketul J. Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and President of Northwest Region, CommonSpirit Health. “We recognize the strain that staffing challenges have placed on our hard working and dedicated teams, even prior to the pandemic. By investing in workforce development in our local community, we hope to help address the existing and growing care needs of our community.” 

Olympic College’s two-phased facilities buildout will not only help to address current health care workforce needs in Kitsap communities, but also anticipated needs as the county experiences rapid growth. According to the Washington State Office of Financial Management growth management projections, the population of Kitsap is estimated to increase by 27,000 people by 2030, a roughly 10 percent increase.

“The Board of County Commissioners is pleased to direct American Rescue Plan Act funds towards this transformative regional investment aimed at expanding access to health care in Kitsap County. We are grateful to partner with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and Olympic College to address current challenges, meet the region’s future needs, and advance workforce development opportunities for a healthier community,” noted County Commissioner Katie Walters.

“This partnership is vital to improving the health care system in Kitsap,” said County Commissioner Christine Rolfes. “For both young people and mid-career professionals, these specialized programs will provide different career pathways to explore that can improve their employment outlooks close to home, while filling critical workforce needs in our community.”

Following the completion of phase one of the Poulsbo Health Sciences Campus in fiscal year 2025, the college will launch phase two, which will focus on the development of a new 40,000-square-foot health sciences building that expands classroom and lab space. It will include a primary care clinic, innovative learning spaces and administrative office spaces. The second phase will also develop new health sciences programs, including dental hygiene, dental assisting and emergency medical technicians. At full capacity, all new programs will enroll more than 600 students at the Poulsbo Health Sciences Campus every year.

About Olympic College
You’re on a journey and Olympic College will help you reach your destination. Cutting edge programs. World-class facilities. Small class sizes. Professors who know you by name. A welcoming community. We offer all of this and more at a fraction of the cost of universities. Your first stop is the Olympic College Welcome Center, where you’ll receive one-on-one help with every step in the admissions process. Start your journey at

Contact:  Shawn Devine, Olympic College, Executive Director of Communications, 360-475-7822, [email protected]

About Virginia Mason Franciscan Health
Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is an integrated health system serving the Puget Sound region, offering access to some of the country’s most prestigious experts and hospitals that are internationally known for superior quality. With a team of 18,000 team members, including nearly 5,000 employed physicians and affiliated providers, we unite the brightest health care minds in the region to provide world-class clinical excellence at 10 hospitals and nearly 300 sites of care throughout the Puget Sound area. We are proud to be the home of Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, and Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research. We embrace our community’s uniquely vibrant, active culture by providing holistic, personalized and patient-centered care. We are committed to caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, especially the poor and underserved, providing more than $300 million in community benefit – free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs.

About the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners
The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is the governing body of Kitsap County. There are three members of the Board and each represents one of three geographical districts. Commissioners work to ensure the delivery of services and programs essential to the continued prosperity of Kitsap County and its residents.