Undergraduate Nursing Changes in Klamath Falls

11/13/01   KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.

Undergraduate nursing education continues at the OHSU School of Nursing -- Klamath Falls Campus despite state budget cuts

Despite state budget cuts for Oregon Health & Science University, the undergraduate nursing program at the Klamath Falls campus will continue to admit students. Responding to approved state budget cuts, however, OHSU will trim the budgets of education and service programs that depend on state support, calling for a change in the School of Nursing's Klamath Falls program.

Beginning in the 2002-2003 academic year, OHSU will continue to admit students to the bachelor of science in nursing program at its Klamath Falls campus and is committed to admitting 16 students each year in the future -- down from the target of 32 students per year. The school's graduate program in Klamath Falls will be discontinued as a result of the cuts. Nurses in southern Oregon, however, will continue to have access to graduate nursing education at the OHSU School of Nursing -- Ashland Campus.

"The nursing education program at our Klamath Falls campus is not being discontinued -- it's changing. OHSU is committed to educating nurses in rural Oregon. Nurses are vital in providing access to quality care for the health of rural children and elders, and for helping maintain the rural lifestyle they value," said Kathleen Potempa, D.N.Sc., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of the OHSU School of Nursing.

The school will continue to employ faculty at the Klamath Falls campus to teach undergraduate clinical courses, and students will continue to have all their clinical experience in the Klamath Falls area. The OHSU School of Nursing -- Ashland Campus will deliver all other coursework, likely utilizing distance-learning technology, such as two-way video and audio conferencing, and online courses.

OHSU has been successfully using these technologies to teach students at a distance since the 1980s when the bachelor's degree program first was offered through two-way video and audio conferencing in eastern Oregon. Since then, the School of Nursing has expanded its distance education program through its campuses in Ashland, Klamath Falls and La Grande. For example, graduate programs are delivered throughout Oregon and Montana using distance technology.

Registered nurses have obtained their bachelor's degrees from OHSU at various sites throughout Oregon, including Coos Bay, Gold Beach, Lakeview, Brookings and, most recently, through online courses.

These programs demonstrate OHSU School of Nursing's commitment to meeting the health care needs of rural Oregon. The school also operates two rural community-based clinics, Union Family Health Center and Elgin Family Health Center, providing the only primary care available in these isolated areas. In additional, the school has operated the Health Network for Rural Schools for five years, providing health care through school-based clinics in five rural school districts.

"The rural environment requires providing rural nurses with enriching training that prepares them to succeed and stay in these communities," said Julie Henzel, R.N., M.S., interim director of academic programs at the School of Nursing's Klamath Falls campus.

"The changing health care and economic environment, particularly in rural Oregon, demands that we create new ways to meet community and individual needs," said Saundra Theis, R.N., Ph.D., associate dean of the School of Nursing's Ashland and Klamath Falls campuses.

For information on OHSU's nursing programs, call 503 494-7725, e-mail proginfo@ohsu.edu, or visit the School of Nursing Web site at www.ohsu.edu/son.

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