OHSU

Nursing Students Enter Innovative Program To Ease Shortage

09/25/06  Portland, Ore.

More than 290 students spread throughout the state will begin their nursing education careers this week through a new program that addresses the nursing shortage in Oregon and the country.

The Oregon Consortium of Nursing Education, (OCNE) created by Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing and several community colleges, attracted more than 1,200 applicants for the 290 openings statewide. Mount Hood, Umpqua, Rogue and Southwestern Oregon community colleges and the OHSU School of Nursing, Ashland, La Grande, Klamath Falls and the Marquam Hill campuses are participating in OCNE this school year. Next year Lane & Clackamas community colleges are expected to start admitting students.

The program offers students the ability to remain in their home communities while completing their bachelor of science with a major in nursing. Students will also obtain their clinical education in these areas.

"This program is much better for me as a mom than the traditional nursing program. It gives me more time to get my nursing degree. I want to be nurse because of the suffering I have seen and I was not able to help," said Asele Bugingo, 37, Portland. Another student, Angel Williamson, 36, Portland, said that taking four years to get her nursing degree works better for her because she needs to also work during some of this time.

 "The OCNE students are the beginning of a new and better way of learning, which will result in excellent patient care. There is an urgent need to train more nurses with bachelor's degree because of the increasing sophistication of health care needs of our patients," said Saundra Theis, RN Ph. D, interim dean of the OHSU School of Nursing.

Oregon is experiencing a severe nursing shortage, one that will continue to grow dramatically over the next decade as nearly half of Oregon's nurses reach retirement age. Reasons for the shortage mirror those nationwide: aging of the general population, aging of the nursing work force, higher acuity and a greater level of nursing care and expertise needed by patients, workplace disincentives, and the image of nursing. While the United States is now entering a prolonged period of severe nursing shortages nationwide, Oregon is disproportionately affected by many of these factors and is predicted to have a greater nursing shortage than much of the nation in the coming years.

The Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education is a national model for making bachelor of science education more accessible, educating students more efficiently and preparing them for the future population's needs.

The curriculum is the same on each of the consortium campuses for the first three years - one year of prerequisites and two years of nursing, supporting sciences and liberal arts. The final four terms of the program are entirely OHSU coursework, which students will be able to complete in their home community. The courses will be offered by OHSU faculty using distance technology, and by faculty from community colleges jointly appointed to OHSU.

This curriculum and the way nurses are being trained provides students with more hands-on training due to simulation learning and also prepares them for the nursing needs of the future such as chronic care management, outcome and evidence-based practice in addition to preparation for acute and end-of-life care. Forty percent of nurses are expected to work outside a hospital setting. This new way of educating cuts down on the big lecture hall approach in favor of mentoring, simulation clinical practice in which a group works together. Northwest Health Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Kaiser Permanente and The William Randolph Hearst Foundations have helped fund some aspects of this new and innovative program. Already several other states are studying the possibility of using OCNE's plan.

Similar to the OHSU School of Nursing plan to increase the number of highly trained nurses in Oregon is the OHSU School of Medicine's strategy to train additional physicians to combat the predicted doctor shortage in the state. The School of Medicine is currently forging community partnerships to create a regional campus, first with the University of Oregon and PeaceHealth system in Eugene, and perhaps with other sites in the future.

Community college contacts:

Janie Griffin, B.S.N., M.N., Mt. Hood Community College, nursing program director,
503 491-6701; griffinj@mhcc.edu

Sandy Hendy, R.N., M.S.N., Umpqua Community College, director of health occupations,
541 440-4613; sandy.hendy@umpqua.edu

Linda Wagner, R.N., M.N., Rogue Community College, nursing department head,
541 956-7013; lwagner@roguecc.edu

Barbara Davey, R.N., M.S., Southwestern Oregon Community College, director, health occupations/coordinator of nursing,541 888-7340; bdavey@socc.edu

Julia Munkvold, R.N., M.N., Lane Community College, nursing program coordinator,
541 463-5754; munkvoldj@lanecc.edu

Carol Thorn, R.N., M.S., Clackamas Community College, department chairwoman of nursing,
541 657-6958; carolt@clackamas.edu

Terry Vogel, B.S., R.N., Blue Mountain Community College, nursing program coordinator,
541 278-5881; tvogel@bluecc.edu

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