OHSU's School of Nursing Helps Central Oregon Nurses Earn Their Master's Degrees

03/22/00    Bend, Ore.

Advanced Technology Connects Nursing Students in Rural Communities to Graduate-Level Education.

Relying mostly on distance-learning technologies, such as video conferencing and online classes through the Internet, nurses living in Central Oregon soon will be able to earn a master's degree without having to leave their homes, families or jobs. Because no graduate-level nursing program currently exists in the area, the Central Oregon University Center in Bend has teamed up with the Oregon Health Sciences University's School of Nursing to create a program that leads to a master's degree in innovative leadership and management. This new program is a vital part of OHSU's community service mission to provide services to rural areas of the state.

"We're really excited about this program," said Leslie Ray, R.N., Ph.D., assistant professor of community health care systems nursing in OHSU's School of Nursing, and the Innovative Leadership and Management program coordinator. Ray said this program will give nurses the skills and knowledge to keep pace with the fast-changing health care environment. "We can't predict what health care is going to look like five years from now. This degree, which focuses on nursing rather than MBA-type skills, should allow nurses to move with creativity and innovation in any health care environment."

Graduates will be qualified to work as head nurses, charge and supervising nurses, or as nurse leaders in a variety of situations, including hospitals and other acute-care facilities, community-based clinics and home health agencies. The Central Oregon University Center has arranged for OHSU's nursing school to use classrooms, offices, videoconferencing and other facilities at Central Oregon Community College. "We're here as part of the state system of higher education to bridge gaps in educational services and bring programs that local residents say they want," says Dick Markwood, dean and director of the Bend center. He says that the OHSU master's program is being offered as a response to requests from local nurses. "With Bend's very active medical community, there's a real need for master's level nurses."

The program will accept its first students in fall 2000 and hopes to enroll about 10 in the first class. It will take most students about three years to complete the degree on a part-time basis. Applicants must be registered nurses with a bachelor's degree and have computer skills. For more information about applying, contact Gabrielle Petersen, R.N., M.S.N., academic program counselor, (503) 494-3805 or petersen@ohsu.edu.