OHSU Delivers Nursing Programs to Rural Students

11/18/99    La Grande, Ore.

Mother of three completes her nursing degree from home in Enterprise.

Marie Gorbett lives on a farm in Enterprise, Oregon. Her dreams to one day become a nurse seemed unattainable, especially since she was raising three children, working and living in a rural area of Oregon. Marie has the partnership of Oregon Health Sciences University's Rural Frontier Delivery Program and Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande to thank for helping make her dream of becoming a public health nurse come true.

"I couldn't have done it unless they had this program. If I had to drive to LaGrande five days a week, I couldn't do it while trying to raise a family and hold down a job too," said Marie.

The OHSU Rural Frontier Delivery Program provides baccalaureate education to students in rural frontier communities with hopes that students will remain in their communities after graduation. Ninety-five percent of RFD graduates stay and work in their community according to Jan Glasby-Peters, R.N., M.N., F.N.P., program coordinator.

"These students are so motivated, so responsible. They all have jobs and family," said Glasby-Peters.

The RFD program is offered to students through the distance learning delivery system at Eastern Oregon University, and utilizing local community resources for clinical learning experiences. The program follows the admission, course and graduation requirements of OHSU School of Nursing.

"One hundred percent of students in the RFD program have passed the state license exam the first time around," said Jeanne Bowden, OHSU associate dean of nursing at EOU.

The nursing theory courses are delivered to rural sites and taught by OHSU nursing faculty at Eastern Oregon University via Ed Net two-way interactive video, videotape, computer conferencing and CD-ROM.

The nursing clinical courses are offered through hospitals, health departments, home health agencies, mental health clinics, private physician offices, schools, nursing homes and other agencies deemed appropriate for learning needs.

Admission to the RFD program is limited to every other year enrollment. Applications to the program are accepted between December 1 and February 1 for summer admission. All lower division prerequisite courses must be completed prior to admission.

The RFD program is offered in five of the eleven rural frontier counties in Oregon and has graduated 21 students since it began in 1992. Five more students are due to graduate in June 2000.

Marie received her nursing license in July and was hired as a public health nurse for the Wallowa County Health Department.

"I love my new job as a public health nurse and the five years it took me to complete my studies was well worth it," she said.