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OHSU School of Nursing, Community Colleges Start First-Of-Its Kind Program

To increase the number of nurses with bachelor's degrees educated in Oregon as a way to address the shortage of highly qualified nurses Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing and eight community colleges have partnered to form the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE).

 "It's 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 Kathleen Potempa, D.N.Sc., R.N., F.A.A.N., OHSU vice president and 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 far 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, increasing the quality of the education, educating  students more efficiently and preparing them for the future population's needs. Students already are applying to be part of this innovative education.

 "For the first phase of the program, students are currently applying to one or more of the four community college campuses or to one or more of OHSU's four campuses," said Louise Shores, R.N., Ed.D., project director, Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education.

The nursing programs that will admit students for nursing courses beginning next fall are: Mt.  Hood, Southwestern Oregon, Umpqua and Rogue community colleges, and all OHSU School of Nursing campuses: Marquam Hill, Ashland, Klamath Falls and La Grande. By fall 2007,  Clackamas, Blue Mountain and Lane community colleges will offer enrollment to consortium students and in the fall of 2008 Treasure Valley Community College will be accepting OCNE students.

Students who are accepted into one of the community college programs are automatically accepted into OHSU for upper division study. Students who have completed the required prerequisite courses and are accepted into the program will begin clinical nursing courses in fall  2006.

"Nursing students take prerequisites at any community college or university. They then can apply for admission to one of the consortium programs to begin nursing courses in their second year of full-time study," said Chris Tanner, Ph.D., R.N., AB Youmans Spaulding Distinguished professor of nursing, OHSU.

Tanner is serving as a consultant to the OCNE steering committee, and helping to guide the development of the new curriculum. The curriculum is essentially 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 on their home campus. The courses will be offered by OHSU faculty using distance technology, and by faculty from community colleges.

"The OCNE plan overcomes many of the barriers to increasing the work force, such as having enough faculty around the state to educate more nurses and more classrooms to handle more students, and more clinical sites for their hands-on training," said Sheila Kodadek, Ph.D., R.N., director of the statewide undergraduate nursing program at OHSU, adding that not everyone can move to Portland to attend OHSU for four years.

"This will be a seamless four years for the students, as participants in a standard curriculum.  Students who begin their coursework at a community college will be able to transfer to the OHSU upper division coursework, bringing with them their financial aid packages," said Sandy Hendy, R.N., M.S.N., Umpqua Community College director of health occupations

"The curriculum is innovative, incorporating best practices in nursing education.  It raises the bar in terms of expectations for graduates: they will be educated as leaders in health care, skilled in using the best available scientific evidence in their practice, and as compassionate, knowledgeable and skillful providers of care. The curriculum combines classroom and Web-based instruction, clinical training in both community-based settings and hospitals, and extensive use of simulation through one of the new simulation centers in the state.

"The mandate has been to double the number of students and reform nursing education. The OCNE plan expects to help move us in that direction although we do not have the resources to meet the full expectation of increasing enrollments," Potempa said.

This new 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 acute care, end-of-life care and aging issues. 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;

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

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

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

Julia Munkvold, R.N., M.N., Lane Community College, nursing program coordinator,
541 463-5754

Carol Thorn, R.N., M.S., Clackamas Community College, department chairwoman of nursing,
541 657-6958,

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

Maureen McDonough, R.N., B.S., M.S., Treasure Valley Community College, director of nursing, 541 881-8822, ext. 345;

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